Real Lives

Praise for project supporting veterans in care homes

A new project is having a huge impact on the lives of ex-Armed Forces personnel living in care homes.

The Veteran Friendly Framework (VFF) launched last year and aims to promote wellbeing and tackle loneliness, by providing resources to care homes in England to better support their veterans.

The managers of two care homes with VFF status – one which provides bespoke care for veterans, and one that doesn’t – have now spoken of the tangible impact it has had on ex-service people living in their homes.

Royal Star & Garter provides loving, compassionate care to veterans and their partners, from Homes in Solihull, Surbiton and High Wycombe. All three Homes are VFF-approved, and Helena Maher is the Home Manager at Surbiton. St Mary’s Riverside, in the East Riding of Yorkshire, is run by Home Manager Laura Barnsley. Unlike Royal Star & Garter, it is a non-military care home, but currently has seven veterans in its care.

Helena described the VFF as “a priority”, while Laura said it allowed her home “to give recognition to the veterans we care for, which they deserve.”

In a blog, Helena said although Royal Star & Garter already cares for veterans, the VFF “is about understanding the military mindset and someone’s previous military service” and “confirms we are achieving a high level of care.” She also highlighted how the VFF leads to improved “joined-up care” with external clinical services, and “raises awareness of our veterans and partners and the challenges they face when accessing care in the secondary healthcare arena.”

Speaking about the impact the VFF was having at St Mary’s Riverside, Laura said the home is “increasing its knowledge and expertise in how to support veterans,” and “improving the care we provide residents.” She said: “We’re connecting with them on a deeper level, we have a deeper understanding of their past, which in turn improves their wellbeing and mental health. I think with the VFF we’ve improved their outcomes and their experiences living in our care home.”

She also said the VFF had encouraged St Mary’s Riverside to connect with local military groups and organisations, with residents going to Royal British Legion coffee mornings, or Help for Heroes befriending volunteers coming to visit. “This increased standing in the community has directly led to a boost in new residents moving into the home,” said Laura.

“I would 100% recommend the VFF to other care homes,” she added.

The VFF will deliver improved health and wellbeing outcomes for over 25,000 veterans in England, and is a two-year collaboration between Armed Forces charities Royal Star & Garter, the Royal British Legion and the NHS Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA – an NHS flagship Armed Forces programme), with funding support from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust.

The VFF has been praised by government minister Rt Hon. Johnny Mercer MP and Professor Deborah Sturdy CBE, the Chief Nurse for Adult Social Care in England.

To date, 19 care homes across England are VFF approved, with 78 going through the process and more than 65 are in active discussion.

Kirsty

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