Improving your care home can be a little daunting, especially after a poor CQC rating.
But it doesn’t have to be.
When it comes to improving your care home, it can be as simple as adding daily group walks or gardening classes.
You can improve the health and well-being of residents and your management style to build your CQC rating.
Have a read through some of our suggestions to improve your care home and your residents’ quality of life.
1. Is your care home - a home?
Your residents are exactly that - residents. What you call work, they call their home!
It’s important to make sure that their home is comfortable - a place of relaxation and a pleasant environment.
The benefits of this is happier, relaxed residents who are more likely to be compliant to a nurses’ requests. There are several cost-effective and simple ways to make communal areas more homely and the benefits of doing so makes life easier for you, your staff and residents.
Purchasing a few decorative soft furnishings for communal areas can make all the difference.
The addition of a rug, a few new cushions and some throws can revitalise an area and make it more inviting.
But you don’t have to blow the budget to achieve this.
Discount stores such as Wilko and B&M Stores all offer decent quality furnishings at a lower price point.
As you may already know, music is a well-known and effective way to engage residents who live with Dementia or Alzheimer's disease.
But did you also know our sense of smell is just as effective?
Using scents can help enhance an environment's atmosphere. Warm scents such as cinnamon, lavender or baking bread can make a room feel warm, cosy and inviting.
Whereas invigorating or lighter scents such as lime, linen and eucalyptus can make a room feel relaxing, clean and head-clearing.
As candles are considered a health & safety hazard in care homes, the option for reed diffusers or non-flammable room & furniture sprays can be an alternative.
You can purchase reed diffusers and sprays almost anywhere, including supermarkets - and they can be as cheap as £2.00.
If you are super dedicated to making your care home as homely as possible, you can even invest in some canvas art and suitable books for residents. Canvas art can also be found in Wilko, B&M, Primark and other discount stores.
For cheaper books, you may find charity or second-hand shops such as Oxfam or the British Heart Foundation will have an abundance of older books that residents are more likely to take notice of.
You may find these small expenses to be a waste of budget… but look a little deeper.
These suggestions can really improve your care home in regards to residents’ satisfaction and quality of life - which should be one of your priorities as care home manager.
In addition to that, an inviting and homely care home is more likely to pull in more new residents - leading to more beds filled.
These small investments can drastically improve your care home and increase staff and residents satisfaction - all leading to an improved CQC rating!
2. Do you encourage hobbies?
Encouraging and facilitating hobbies is a great way to improve your care home by engaging residents.The top care homes in the country all put residents’ satisfaction as one of their top priorities, and this is reflected by their CQC ratings.
You may find it difficult to organise the time to facilitate hobbies in a busy schedule, however it doesn’t have to be!
You can create a timetable where you can set aside an hour or so a few times a week to encourage your residents to pick up a hobby.
You may already have a timetable or system set in place to encourage socialising between residents (perhaps after or during mealtimes) - build on that!
Use that time in the day when most residents are out of their rooms and encourage a particular activity.
Examples of hobbies or social activities that can be easily facilitated and suitable for a care home include the aforementioned knitting, a ‘movie club’ (think more Citizen Kane then Cloverfield), a ‘book club’ and more!
Doing this can create a sense of community in your care home, which would appeal to potential new residents and leave a lasting impression during a CQC inspection.
Activities such as gardening may take more organisation, but with all the residents and staff you will be attracting to your fantastic, new and improved care home it shouldn’t be too much trouble!
3. Do you encourage health and well-being?
It is well known that light exercise can really improve an elderly person’s mood and health.
Daily walks can improve heart health, reduces chronic pain and improves mood. Encouraging residents to walk around - even if it is in the garden or around the care home will show your CQC inspector that you are making a solid effort to improve your care home.
These less obvious changes focus on residents’ satisfaction and quality of life.
This potentially conveys to residents’ families and your CQC inspector that you have your priorities in the right place.
This walking activity doesn’t have to be daily - even three times a week can be sufficient exercise! Additionally, a nature walk with a small group of residents (around 3 or 4) can encourage socialising too.
You may find it more difficult to use this suggestion with residents who live with Dementia or Alzheimer's, however you can work around this by confining the exercise into a closed off space, such as a garden.
Yoga or meditation are both known to lift mood, improve sleep and flexibility and are great substitutes to get everyone involved in the fun.
4. Are you responsive?
Making collaborative improvements can make improving your care home a breeze.
What does that mean?
Well, collaborative improvements can be in the form of regular resident & resident family surveys that open the floor to suggestions on what to improve and what works well.
This can also be discussed during CQC inspection as evidence that you take the feedback process seriously and are committed to promoting real improvement in your care home!
Ensuring that staff feel supported and encouraging an open culture around whistleblowing is equally important. Staff that feel heard and supported often translates into better quality of care as job satisfaction improves.
5. Are you an effective manager?
An effective manager encourages their staff to maintain quality and strive for improvement constantly.
Improvements that can be made amongst staff should not be left to be discussed in appraisals - this leaves room for poor satisfaction amongst residents.
Encouraging staff to take their time to understand the residents they are caring for, rather than treat them as part of a to-do list can make a big difference in improving your care home.
Personalised care is important, and in an understaffed and busy care home - this can fall by the wayside.
To avoid this, you can implement weekly personalised goals for staff to improve on one aspect of their job.
Examples of this can be updating their knowledge on medication for residents, being more effective in personal care or more. This also makes it clear to staff what you expect of them, which encourages clear communication and improves job satisfaction.
Whistleblowing has been reported many times in the press as a negative experience for the whistleblower, which can leave them potentially exposed to bullying or intimidation in the workplace.
Ensuring that staff feel confident in your management and are happy to report concerns they may have is imperative to your success as a manager. Incremental improvements adds up to success.
Even if you implement one or two of these suggestions - you will be well on your way to improving your care home!