A decorated former soldier has used his military skills and imagination to back up his ‘outstanding’ classification from the Care Quality Commission by launching a ‘transformative’ initiative for dementia patients and those with learning difficulties.
And, he says, the lessons learned could benefit the whole care industry.
Retired Major Jonathan Cunningham MBE, who owns Rosebank Care Home and manages Birkdale Park Nursing Home in Southport, Merseyside, has transformed the well-being of residents – by taking them on rickshaw rides around the pretty Victorian resort.
He believes the chance to feel the wind in their hair and enjoy an ice cream as they are chauffeured along the town’s elegant boulevards has had a huge impact on a range of factors that contribute to their well-being.
“Our old dears absolutely love their trips out,” explains Mr Cunningham. “They’re more engaged with the people and world around them and their appetite is much better. Their sleep patterns improve, anxiety levels reduce and there seems to be much greater emotional contentment. And, aside from the benefits of enhanced Vitamin D, they just love tucking in to an ice cream,” he says.
Mr Cunningham says his ‘rickshaw therapy’ is merely indicative of a wider culture of ‘imaginative, enthusiastic care’ at his two homes, Rosebank, which is rated ‘Outstanding’, and Birkdale Park, rated ‘good, heading towards outstanding.’
“Most homes are too worried about risk assessments and a poor grade from the CQC to try something innovative like this. But the results speak for themselves,” says Mr Cunningham.
“There’s a lesson here for the entire industry: enthusiasm, imagination and commitment are all free and by raising our sights the industry can deliver better care in the face of stringent budget cuts. I’d like to see rickshaws at work across the country although it might be tougher ask in hilly places like Sheffield and Bath.”