Real Lives Showcase

Chris martials the art of caring

Chris Guest, Customer Relationships Manager, Berkley Care Group

Throughout the year we profile a care professional who has come into the sector after a career change and who demonstrates that it really is never too late to care!  This month we meet Chris Guest, a Customer Relationships Manager at Blenheim House, part of the Berkley Care Group, who’s journey working in the entertainment industry and running a martial arts academy, led him to a career in care.

Having graduated from Staffordshire University with a Masters degree, Chris became part of a thriving entertainment agency  in the north of England, managing festivals and events which saw appearances such as Mohammed Ali, Archbishop Desmond Tutu,  and numerous musical artists entertain audiences in their thousands.

At the same time  he also opened a successful martial arts academy which helped disadvantaged  people find balance and a place in their community, a position he has won numerous awards for as well as becoming a Sports Personality of the Year for his work with hard to engage communities.

With this exciting and fast paced life it came as a surprise to Chris’ friends and family that he was to relocate to Wiltshire to work in a care home.

After years of owning 2 successful businesses and working long hours Chris began to look at relocating closer to the south coast, he felt a new change of pace was needed as he entered his 40’s, and when offered the role of Lifestyle and Events  Manager at Blenheim House in 2019 he relocated to Melksham, a farming town in Wiltshire.

Chris quickly gained National recognition for the home through a series of unique and eye catching projects to engage the homes residents. He was acutely aware that activities within the home had a direct impact on the health and wellbeing of it’s residents and was a key contributor to Continue Being Me, a comprehensive guide to running activities and social interactions, engaging the mind, body and soul of the residents on an individual, person centered basis.

Chris found that although the home had a large amount of enquiries the occupancy remained in the mid 60’s and he volunteered his skills to see if he could increase the admission rate by taking over the tours of the home and following the enquiries through. In 2022 the home became full at 85 residents,  for the first time in the homes 13 years, and continues a healthy 90%+ occupancy, having won a Top 20 Care Home Award for the fourth year running and maintaining a consistent 10/10 rating on Carehome.co.uk for those years.

Building relationships  in the community to discuss elderly care was one of his first actions , and this continues to be an important part of his role to this day. Chris holds regular stalls and meet and greets across Wiltshire , he supports community events to make sure the home is visible and feels these relationships with the community are vital when families are seeking a care home for their loved on. It is through his extensive community work that he has won numerous awards for the home, and gaining Highly Commended recognition at the 2023 Great British Care Awards.

At the same time Chris was keen to increase the reviews and ratings of the home, as he knew families would be looking at real-life testimonials amid a town with many care homes, he knew that Blenheim House needed to be set apart from the others and that reviews from within the home would greatly increase this.

Chris takes the enquirer through from the initial stages all the way to admission. This is often an emotionally challenging role as he will be supporting relatives who feel they may be losing their partner, or there is family guilt at placing a relative in care. Once a family agrees on a stay at Blenheim House Chris works with the family to ensure they have everything they need, and maintains this relationship throughout their loved ones stay at the home- and often long after wards too.

Chris will often work with other departments in the home to look for improvements, or special moments that the homes residents could experience. He understands that leaving a lasting memory for residents on respite stays lead to repeat bookings and often permanent stays. He will venture into the community to deliver breakfasts to emergency workers, and supports local elderly clubs with resources that their finances cannot reach.

Chris was recently nominated for Community Engagement Person of the Year, and received some wonderful comments which he feels motivates him in his work.

“Thank you so much for supporting me and my family with our mum’s journey from her treasured home into Blenheim House. It would never have happened without you”

“Thank you from the bottom of our hearts, my father thinks you’re great and when we really needed someone to help us you shone through.”

berkleycaregroup.co.uk

Kirsty

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