Estates Deputy Manager at PJ Care, Grant Mugford, has just marked his fifth year with the company as well as celebrating being named Ancillary Worker of the Year in the Great British Care Awards for the East of England region.
Judges described him as a “rising star with a cracking attitude.”
A former electrical engineer, Grant made the move to the neurological care specialists as he wanted a change in career and a fresh challenge. It’s a decision he’s thrilled he made.
“The estates team are there to support the service and we provide a massive occupational therapy input as well as maintaining the buildings,” he says.
Grant’s relationships with the residents are what give him an immense sense of satisfaction in his job. From turning on a resident’s TV in the morning to getting them safely involved in his maintenance tasks, he’s always thinking how he can enrich their daily lives.
With the advent of lockdown, he concentrated his thoughts on creating meaningful activities in the absence of visitors and trips outside the care centres.
“We all play a part in keeping residents occupied and feeling they have a purpose,” he says. “I involved them in choosing new wallpaper for the lounge area. For residents with dementia, I made electrical-themed puzzle or ‘twiddle’ boards so they could enjoy plugging things in and switching switches.
“I looked for every opportunity to give them a task like ticking off my health and safety list or pretend painting with me, with water. They might be small things but they make a huge difference to someone’s wellbeing.”
Grant’s approach to his work applied to his colleagues, too. To minimise the risk of infection from travelling to work, managers at PJ Care allocated the company minibus to bring staff in. Before a driver was recruited, Grant volunteered to do the job.
When the catering or housekeeping team are short-staffed, Grant is ready to step into the breach.
COVID has meant re-shaping the interior of PJ Care’s centres in Milton Keynes and Peterborough to give staff changing areas and break-out rooms where they can safely remove their masks and have a break.
“One of our residents is a keen artist and we’ve used his paintings to decorate the break-out space,” says Grant. “It made the space feel more comfortable for the staff and the gentleman was thrilled to see his work giving pleasure to the team.”
He calls PJ Care his ‘second family’ although, at times, his own loved ones must feel it’s almost his first!
As he, his wife and two children were heading to the coast on holiday, Grant received a call telling him one of the lifts was out of order.
“I just couldn’t leave it,” he remembers. “We turned round and I went into work, got the temporary stairlift up and running and called out the lift engineers. Luckily, my family know what I’m like and how important the residents are to me.”
Grant volunteers to help out at weekends and pre-COVID, his children would often accompany him, spending time chatting and playing games with the residents.
His dedication has seen him promoted but he says he still loves to get his hands dirty.
“There aren’t many companies where you get to manage a team and work on the floor. Just last week I had my hand down a toilet pulling out a pair of pyjamas!
“People told me moving into care was a risky move but I can see myself retiring at PJ Care, it’s a decision I’ve never regretted.”