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How to be Outstanding… Ideal Carehome’s Ash Tree House

The team at Ash Tree House

Each month we profile a care provider who has achieved an Outstanding rating with the Care Quality Commission and find out what they think it takes to be truly Outstanding. 

This month we feature a Wigan care home, Ash Tree House, part of the Ideal Carehomes group, who was hailed as ‘outstanding’ in its ability to provide a responsive service following its CQC inspection earlier this year.  We talk to the home’s manager, Chris Durnan, on how he and his team excel in this area.

Chris Durnan, Registered Manager, Ash Tree House

I was thrilled that Ash Tree House gained an ‘outstanding’ for providing an exceptionally responsive service in our latest CQC report.

In essence, this means that we excel in tailoring our care services to meet the needs of our residents and deliver care in a way that creates independence, choice, control and continuity. 

There’s a number of ways in which I think we’ve achieved this together as a team:


The term person-centred care is used a lot in the care sector but at Ideal Carehomes it is genuinely something that is embedded into the DNA of our organisation. With the help of some of our wonderful  Ideal Carehomes residents, we, as an operator, have produced the #thisisme video which is used in training and workshops. It’s an extremely moving and emotional piece of film, with residents talking about their lives in terms of love, loss, careers, regrets and achievements

As part of the #thisisme programme, here at Ash Tree House we speak to every single resident, , with input from their family and friends, and ask them to talk us through their life to date in great detail. The information given helps staff reconnect with their roles as care givers and reinforces the notion that our residents have lived wonderfully rich and interesting lives – and more importantly, continue to do so.  #thisisme has also led to us establishing a resident buddy programme, whereby we tailor activities and interactions to each individual’s preferences and needs. 

Make A Wish

One of my favourite phrases is ‘let’s get busy living’. Our ‘Make A Wish’ programme has been designed with this in mind and involves us asking residents what is the one activity that you haven’t done that you’d like to do and we’ll do our best to make it happen. The responses have been pretty varied!

So far, we’ve had residents ride on a fire engine, taste champagne for the first time, go to watch Everton and Bolton Wanderers play football, watch a Westlife tribute act, take a trip home to Spain to see family and buy a table tennis table. We don’t consider anything impossible. The CQC felt this had really improved the mental wellbeing of many residents and proved that we will always go the extra mile to help people continue to live fulfilling lives.

Little changes can make a big difference

On joining the home, I established one-to-ones with every single member of staff, resident and relative and implemented an action plan to address any negative points that came out of them.

Little changes can make a big difference to everyday life. For example, we bought some silent hoovers to enable the housekeeping team to carry out their daily cleans in rooms without disturbing a resident’s peace. Residents also now enjoy using them around the home which helps them to maintain their daily living skills.

Other concerns around dignity were addressed – we now use screens in lounges to protect residents’ privacy when they are being moved using a hoist, or when they are receiving medication or injections. It means that they don’t have to leave communal areas to have treatment if they don’t want to and this has been very warmly received. 

Remind your team how important they are

I always remember that without my team, I don’t have a care home and it is so important to me that I make them feel appreciated and valued. I established home-wide events that would bring staff, residents and relatives together to have fun – things such as floor naming ceremonies, Motown discos, karaoke and DJ sessions – exciting and uplifting activities that we could all enjoy. They’ve been a roaring success. Our next team bonding session is outside of the home at the escape rooms Adrenaline Escape in Wigan – we can’t wait!










Edel Harris





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