Whether we work in a social care setting, an acute trust, a community trust or a charity, what has always been very clear to me is that we are here to care for people.
My career has spanned the sectors, and what unites my experience is the people I cared for along the way.
We are all on a journey, and throughout our lives we require support and care throughout that journey, whether that be from the midwife who safely delivered us, through to the palliative care nurse who helped to make our illness more bearable.
The Whitgift Foundation is a unique charity, founded by Archbishop John Whitgift, that has been looking after the young and old in Croydon for over 420 years.
As the Foundation’s first Director of Care, I am determined to break down any existing barriers within the various sectors with the focus being on integrated, holistic care, determined by our residents and clients, not the other way around.
It is far too easy to become lost in the system; systems we create, and to lose sight of the person we are supposed to be helping.
I am pleased to see the tide has changed over recent years as we focus on “well-being focused care” instead of “symptom focused care” across all the sectors. I believe this is one of the things that unites us. Twenty years ago, whether in a hospital or a care home, you were given a bath to keep you clean; now we recognise through research how important these sensory pleasures are.
Whitgift Care, which comprises Almshouses, care homes, sheltered housing, a day care service and a carer information service already recognises the importance of well-being and supporting our clients to be as well and as independent as they can be for as long as possible.
In 2016 we started our 1596 Club. This is a day care service which grew out of our commitment to reduce social isolation in the community. People from all walks of life come along to meet new friends, join in activities and share a meal. We receive great feedback from those who attend and the service also provides some “free time” for carers who know their loved ones are being well looked after while they take some time off.
We know Croydon has more than 30,000 unpaid carers, which is why we provide the Carers Information Service who run the Carers Support Centre. Based in the heart of Croydon, the Centre is a place for carers to drop in for advice, a chat and a coffee. We provide practical help with form filling as well as sign post carers to other organisations when appropriate.
The team at the Centre are dedicated to trying to help lift some of the burden felt by carers who become isolated themselves as they dedicate their time caring for a family member or loved one.
So to the future. My role is to continue the good work of the Foundation and to help build a future for Whitgift Care that continues to care for the people of Croydon, recognising we are living longer, often alone and with chronic conditions such as diabetes and dementia. As a result, I am looking forward to getting to know colleagues across Croydon who share my commitment to integrated and holistic care, working in partnership with external agencies, and sharing best practice is key for all of us providing care so that we continually improve and find new ways to enhance the experience of our clients, patients and residents.