Diane Church, Administrator at Penhurst Gardens
Diane Church has described her nomination in the finals of the South East Great British Care Awards, in the Ancillary Worker Category, as a ‘lovely surprise’.
Diane’s route into the care industry began early in her life, when she worked as a secretary for Oxford Crematorium. Her responsibilities included the very sensitive role of meeting bereaved family members. Clearly already an empathetic person, Diane found that an increased role in the office, rather than meeting people, did not suit her as well. She therefore switched to working in a care home and now currently works at Porthaven’s Penhurst Gardens in Chipping Norton, where she juggles the role of office work with being out and about amongst residents as much as possible, getting to know people and engaging with daily life at the home.
Part of the reason for Diane’s nomination was the warmth she so clearly demonstrates toward residents, who she considers to be part of an extended family. As with so many Porthaven employees, hand-selected for their professionalism but also their aptitude and empathy, Diane does not consider her role as merely a job. She is fully immersed in the exceptional programme of activities and events that are organised within the home, particularly anything that includes singing and dancing. She often entertains residents by showing considerable skills on the keyboard. Recently, she even threw herself fully into the role of entertainer by dressing up as a policewoman, to animate a talk by police from Chipping Norton who visited to talk about The Great Train Robbery.
It is fairly easy to see what makes Diane so special and truly worthy of her nomination, as she treats residents as she would expect to be treated, respecting their dignity, individualism and privacy. More than anything else, she loves to hear stories of residents’ interesting lives.
What makes Penhurst Gardens such a special place to work and live? In Dianes’ case, working at Penhurst Gardens is ‘a pleasure’ and there is a great deal of satisfaction in watching residents thrive in the beautifully designed home under the expert care of her colleagues. Staff are helped in their respective roles by the spacious and cleverly designed interior of the home, such as the provision of large en suite bedrooms that are personalised and modern enough to give each and every resident a sense of belonging, whilst still respecting their practical day-to-day needs. That person-centred care, where everyone enjoys a choice of dining areas, a café, hairdressing salon, hobbies room, a private dining room and lovely landscaped gardens for gardening, tea or gentle exercise, is what also helps it to be very much more than an average care home. Penhurst Gardens, with excellent and dedicated staff like Diane, is a place to live well, in style.
Caring is what every member of the team at Penhurst Gardens do best. Kindness and caring is clearly very much part of Diane’s ethos, as she also works in the wider community as a volunteer helping people with meals and personal care. She is often the only person those people may have seen all day and on alternate Saturdays, she takes individual clients for coffee or fish and chips. She is all too aware that the seemingly straightforward process of having a cup and tea and a chat is very important to her clients. It is this sort of dedication to other human beings that was recognised with this award nomination. She even manages to fit in yoga, zumba and trips to the theatre in her spare time.
When we spoke to Diane, generous as ever, she wanted to take the opportunity to thank her manager Matthew Berry, for believing in her and giving her such a great opportunity to work at lovely Penhurst Gardens.