The AESSEAL New York Stadium, home of Rotherham United, was buzzing with excitement as over 20 Service User Ambassadors from across Exemplar Health Care’s homes gathered for a memorable Christmas party.
Exemplar Health Care is one of the country’s leading nursing care providers for adults living with complex needs arising from dementia, mental health conditions, neuro-disabilities and physical disabilities. The organisation operates 48 complex care services across Yorkshire, the Midlands, the North East and the North West of England.
The Christmas party event, co-hosted by Alex, the Service User Ambassador from Havenmere care home in Immingham, was a vibrant celebration of the festive season and the remarkable growth and achievements of the Service User Council throughout 2023.
The ambassadors enjoyed a variety of entertaining activities, making the party a truly unforgettable experience, including a lively Christmas conga line, karaoke, and indulgent buffet and open bar.
There was also a special visit from Santa, who distributed gifts including personalised Service User Ambassador scarves, and a Christmas cake baking competition, won by Exemplar Health Care’s Yarningdale home with their extravagant Malteser covered Terry’s chocolate orange cake.
Alongside the celebrations, the Council proudly reflected on its significant growth – from eight ambassadors in 2018, to 55 ambassadors in 2023 with representatives from all 48 Exemplar Health Care homes. Service User Ambassadors meet regularly as part of the Council to propose new ideas and contribute to shaping the organisation’s operations, policies, and services.
This year, the Council has had a clear focus on co-production, supporting Exemplar Health Care’s decision making on a wide range of business areas, from marketing and home building, to training and recruitment. This includes:
- Advising Sheffield Hallam University to help shape the evolution of the University’s social work and nursing curriculums.
- Co-creating a new recruitment campaign that will launch in the new year.
- Advising on the organisation’s marketing materials to enhance accessibility.
- Co-producing videos for colleague induction and training to help new starters better understand the perspectives of the people living in Exemplar Health Care’s homes, how they like to be supported, and what life is like living with certain conditions.
Previously, the Council has also helped co-create a new organisation wide ‘Service User Holiday Policy’, and advised on the design and functionality of the organisation’s new build homes – the latter being particularly important with Exemplar Health Care having opened nine new homes in the past twelve months.
Looking forward to 2024, Exemplar Health Care will continue to enhance and develop the role of the Service User Council, including establishing a new ‘Regional Ambassador’ role to participate in meetings with Regional Directors of Operations and Home Managers. Two other Ambassadors will be appointed to engage directly with the Executive Management Team on behalf of the Council and all people living in Exemplar Health Care homes, further placing the voices of residents at the heart of the organisation’s decision making.
Sophia Feurtado-Jackson, Service User Engagement Manager at Exemplar Health Care, said:
“From humble beginnings with just a few members to now having over fifty Ambassadors, I am overwhelmed with pride and joy at what we have achieved with the Service User Council.
“The broad range of business areas the Council has engaged with shows our real commitment, passion, and investment in placing the opinions and perspectives of the people we support at the organisation’s centre and encapsulating our values in action.
“We hope others in the sector will follow suit and implement similar initiatives because we’ve found the Council’s input to be invaluable, both in terms of creating services and policies that work well in our homes, but also in making sure we are personalising the care and support we provide at every level.”