It is estimated that by 2020 around 40,000 veterans needing nursing care will be affected by dementia.
Gill Dunn is Deputy Manager at our Solihull Home and a lead trainer on the Dementia Care Matters, “Being a Star course”. Gill has kindly written about her experiences at Solihull for us.
I had read press releases with interest about the building of a new Royal Star & Garter Home in Solihull and had researched the Charity in detail and found the history fascinating. I had previously worked with Sue Tompkins (current Home Manager at Solihull) and when she came to work at The Royal Star & Garter Homes she told me of the fantastic environment, star values and support. I was keen to apply when a vacancy became available and I joined the Charity on 28th November 2009 as a Registered Nurse on what is now Croucher Wing. I became Deputy Manager the following year.
The most enjoyable part of my role is the residents, all of whom have fantastic life stories and to whom we owe so much. I particularly enjoy going out to meet people for an Initial Assessment prior to admission. It is such a difficult time for residents and their families to make that move, but to watch them become part of the The Royal Star & Garter Homes’ family, form new friendships and improve both physically and emotionally is a fantastic experience. I am very passionate about dementia care within The Royal Star & Garter Homes and it’s great to see staff benefit from the training we provide. We are so privileged in our role to meet such fantastic people, become part of their lives and to see them living well with dementia.
Training within The Royal Star & Garter Homes is second to none and Staff Induction is a crucial component of this. Staff feel very positive about the training they receive, they feel relaxed and are encouraged to deliver the care we would wish to receive ourselves.
I was on the initial “Being a Star” group training with Dementia Care Matters and this fuelled my passion for person-centred dementia care. We saw a need to have someone lead the team in this model of care to work towards and change the culture of care. Cheryl, our Practice Development Nurse, and myself now facilitate “Being a Star” training here at Solihull and are currently holding refreshers for those staff who completed training in the early days. We also hold joint learning sessions every 3 months for families of people living with dementia to support them on their journey too.
We have had some very special moments and we recently witnessed something that touched us deeply. We have a lady living in a different reality on our Roundel Wing. Her husband of 64 years visits frequently and struggles to cope with her journey through dementia. They used to entertain and sing together and he came to Solihull with a group of friends to entertain us at the Home. He was centre stage and his wife sat in the front row as he sang. Eventually he invited her to join him and they sang their special song together as if only they were in the room. They are obviously still madly in love, and it was such a special moment seeing that connection and the love they share. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
Every day is different and my role is very varied, with many challenges to face but I know that I can sit down with a resident, share a cup of tea and some memories, which always brightens my mood. What other job allows you to be so close to people, share their lives and get so much back. It’s a privilege!
If I was asked to describe The Royal Star & Garter Homes in one sentence, I couldn’t, but to me it’s like coming home, making a difference and making every moment count!