The leader of the council has worked a shift as a care worker – in a bid to learn more about the industry.
Louise Goldsmith, leader of West Sussex County Council has visited Valerie Manor, an ‘outstanding’ care home in Henfield, to find out what life is like for residents and carers.
Starting off with a staff briefing, Louise helped residents at meal times, assisted staff with bed making, did the tea round and spent time talking to residents, but said she deliberately arrived without any expectation of how the day would be.
“I arrived with an open mind,” she said.
“It was really interesting to see just how caring the care workers are, dealing with people’s individual needs. There were also a lot of interesting characters who were really great to talk to.
“It is a very relaxed and happy place. I have been really impressed with how the staff support each other.”
Following the Orchid View scandal - the Crawley care home where neglect led to the deaths of five residents – West Sussex County Council and West Sussex Adult’s Safeguarding Board have vowed to work harder to make sure care services are safe, compassionate and provide high quality care.
Through West Sussex Care Month, the council is working to raise awareness about care and support available in the county.
Louise said: “It has been really nice to learn how that has been delivered here.
“We all have a better understanding of the care industry – the work involved by the care workers and their personal commitment.
“We want people to be cared for with love, respect and kindness.
“I think there is a huge emotional demand on people because you build relationships with the residents – it is a very close bond.
“I have been really impressed with how the staff support each other.”
She said the role of carers in the UK has been overlooked in the past – but the importance of the job should not be underestimated.
“Staff are looking after someone’s relative which is so precious. I don’t think we give enough respect and due regard to that.”
Zoe Bates, owner of Valerie Manor Care Home, which recently achieved an outstanding inspection by the Care Quality Commission, described the leader’s visit as an ‘really positive’ experience.
She said the staff were delighted the care home received recognition from inspectors.
“It was lovely for our staff to be able to talk positively about what they are doing here. It is a very rewarding job.
“I’m quite upset other care homes haven’t been banging on my doors, to find out what we are doing well. If it was me I would want to know how Valerie Manor is getting ‘outstanding’.
Zoe said she believes a nursing background is ‘essential’ when managing a care home adding she was lucky to have a waiting list of staff willing to be employed.
While a lot of homes and care agencies in West Sussex rated ‘good’ by the health watchdog, Valerie Manor was the first care home in West Sussex to achieve the top rating – however Cllr Goldsmith said she hopes the high standards in the county will aspire more to aim high.
She said: “It has been an absolute pleasure and privilege to observe an outstanding home and see what good care really looks like.”
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