My Willows home care (part of Somerset Care Group) has a very different philosophy when it comes to the delivery of personal care. As with all home care provision, the key care essentials are at the heart of making a difference to someone’s life and enabling them to maintain independence in their own home. However, there are two key differences that set My Willows apart.
The first is their service is very much person centred and doesn’t stop at basic task and function. Helping someone with the daily essentials often associated with home care is just one part of the story. Yes, this ensures a level of independent living, but does it support a fulfilling independence?
Uniquely tailored care packages incorporate all the everyday essentials but also support wider needs, such as; helping out around the home, assisting the weekly shop, getting out and about together to support social attendance, providing companionship to pursue interests and hobbies. Together, all of these things form the rich and varied tapestry that make up someone’s life. It is maintaining this wider picture that truly supports independent living.
The second is consistency and familiarity. My Willows operate smaller teams in small local pockets, which facilitate and build rapport and trust between carer and customer. Creating a close and collaborative relationship means that carers are able to better understand what makes customers tick and ensure they elaborate on their strengths, and explore and support weaknesses that can be detrimental to their wellbeing.
Laura Harrison is a My Willows carer who operates in the local Crewkerne community in Somerset, and her passion and commitment for delivering person centred care is clearly grounded in supporting both the physical and mental wellbeing of her customers.
Laura was keen to share some examples of her work, and had this to say about how she views her role, “For me, it is so important to become an integral part of someone’s life. When I work with a customer I don’t just want to help someone function, I want to help them flourish.”
Laura outlined some key examples of where her diligence and wider oversight of a customer’s care plan has lead to improving wellbeing and quality of life.
- Through interaction and conversation one client disclosed she hadn’t showered for 3 years. By building rapport and trust, Laura was able to support a gradual transition where this lady now showers weekly.
- One client in sheltered housing had become increasingly withdrawn and was reluctant to venture outside due to lack of confidence. With Laura’s encouragement and support she now regularly goes out with Laura, who has supported her through many new experiences, including; beauty treatments, coffee shops and swimming.
- One client used to throw away her lunch. Knowing that food and nutrition plays such a huge role in both physical and mental wellbeing, Laura approached her manager and asked if she could be put on the lunch time shifts. Now, thanks to Laura lunch is a sociable occasion for the client. They prepare lunch together and Laura brings sandwiches so she can sit and eat with her lady.
These are just a selection of examples where person centred care goes above and beyond what may be considered the norm, but the wider question should surely be, should this approach be the rule and not the exception? Not everyone receiving care will have an experience that looks and feels like this and what ultimately becomes of their wellbeing. What, in the current system, needs to change? If we are looking to promote independent living as a primary focus, care needs to support all aspects of this.