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Alpacas Return

Following the successful visit of Mortimers Alpacas last summer, when Hugo and Truffle were our woolly guests, we were delighted to welcome two new friends to The Chiswick.

This time, our visitors were Flynn and Arti (no relation to our activities coordinator), accompanied by their handlers. Flynn is the larger, brown one and Arti, who is still a youngster, is deaf.

There was great fun and fascination as they travelled up in the lift to meet some of our residents. 

The two animals love carrots, so they were more than happy to be hand-fed. Flynn is known to be particularly greedy and wasted no time getting stuck in.

Animals have the most extraordinary ability to promote calm, joy and contentment and this pair was no exception. You could just see from the expression on residents’ faces and their urge to stroke these gentle creatures how much this visit was appreciated. As for Flynn and Arti, it was all in a day’s work and they certainly appreciated the attention and the treats!

Celebrating International Nurses Day

The theme for this year’s International Nurses Day was ‘Our Nurses. Our Future. The economic power of care’ and at The Chiswick we strongly believe that international nurses are an economic power of care, which is why we are investing time and resource into encouraging overseas qualified nurses to work at the Nursing Centre.

Our ability to help recruit, engage and fund their travel to the UK, provide accommodation and settling in time and then to support them with achieving the UK PIN number, which allows them to work to and meet the UK Nursing Standards, is showing good outcomes. Many of our overseas recruits are now settled and established in the UK and working hard to support our frail, elderly residents.  They also bring a heritage and an identity that they are able to share with people and the patients they care for.

The nursing centre only works within strong ethical guidelines to ensure that our actions in recruiting and supporting these nurses to come to the UK does not cause a resultant nurse shortage in their country of origin. Most importantly, all of our overseas recruits have to evidence their ability to work within the strict UK guidelines and regulations for qualified nurses.

This week, the nursing centre celebrated International Nurses Day by recognising the strengths that all of our nurse workforce bring to the centre every day and rewarding them all with a small gift/token of our appreciation.

Centre Director, Steve Winter, said: “Our Nurse workforce are an integral and vital part of helping us to meet the complex and clinical nursing needs of our residents at The Chiswick. We have a strong recruitment programme supported by excellent HR professionals and Clinical Managers to make sure that the programme keeps working well for everyone involved.”

Flying visits keep residents intrigued

We don’t often get to see birds of prey at close quarters, so it was a very special occasion when a kestrel, falcon and two owls visited CNC.

The birds and their handlers were from Wings of Freedom, a charity that works to rescue, rehabilitate and educate people about birds of prey. Wings of Freedom is also keen to demonstrate the therapeutic benefits that come from interacting with these beautiful creatures.

The demonstrator has been involved with birds of prey all his life since he was six years old. He followed the local vets and learnt how to mend broken wings and treat sick birds of prey. He is now 70 years old. His grandfather was master falconer to the late Queen Mother. He showed a barn owl and it was amazing to witness it beautiful serene face, white soft down gently cascading in tones of beige. The kestrel was so lovely with its intelligent eyes and hues of brown.

Residents were spellbound as a couple of the birds perched quietly on their covered arms or even in their laps, in the case of the delightful, little kestrel.

The birds had travelled all the way from their home in Newbury, Berkshire but were still pretty relaxed by the time they arrived as they are well used to such visits. You could see from the expressions on residents’ faces that they found their feathered guests mesmerizing, soothing and a little bit awe inspiring.

Supporting Men’s Mental Health

We have often written here about how mental wellbeing is as important as physical health – the former often having a tangible effect on the latter.

It has been widely reported in the media that people’s mental health was negatively affected during the Covid 19 pandemic. Whilst women are generally more open to talk about their worries and anxieties, the same cannot always be said of men. The Mental Health Foundation reveals that society’s expectations of traditional gender roles play a part in why men find it less likely to discuss or seek help for their mental health problems.

The Chiswick Nursing Centre focuses on the physical and mental health of all of its residents but we don’t often publicise what we do for our male residents.

Chris, one of our activities coordinators holds a men’s group every Thursday. He provides a safe and confidential space where the male residents can discuss any issues that may be troubling them. Together, they explore possible solutions but sometimes, just airing the problem helps. Outings to local venues for coffee / drinks are a key part of how the group binds together to allow open discussion to happen. As they say….’a problem shared’….

Further information on men’s mental health can be found here

Green is for Frog, Blue is for Lizard

Residents were delighted to welcome a return visit from our friends at Darwin’s Kingdom, accompanied, as ever, by a fascinating array of reptiles.

Darwin’s Kingdom is a ‘hands-on’ educational charity whose main mission is to educate people about exotic animals, predominantly reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates. These creatures are often neglected in favour of the ‘cute and cuddly’ but are just as interesting and appealing in their own way.

Firstly, a green frog was handed round for people to hold. As it sat peacefully, in people’s hands, they were informed that it sometimes changes colour overnight to a very vivid green. Sadly, we weren’t able to wait that long as the lizard had to return home with its handlers before nightfall.

Next, was a blue tongued lizard hailing from Australia. It flicked out its tongue and you could see the vivid blue colour that gives the lizard its name.

Finally, a giant tortoise wandered round the room. “The owner told us that it was a teenager and would grow a lot bigger,” said one of our residents. “When it is hungry it bangs against her legs to let her know.”

Everyone was excited and curious to hold the animals and see them up close. It was another successful visit and no doubt, it won’t be the last we have seen of Darwin’s Kingdom.

Our Two Shining March Employees

Our Employee of the Month award continues to celebrate the achievements of members of our workforce who fully embrace their roles and go above and beyond what is expected of them.

The two shining stars to emerge for March were Lismatu Kamara and Hari Priya Sreekumaran.

If you want to know who keeps things running smoothly in our Buckingham Suite, then you need look no further than Hari. She is described as calm, collected, dedicated, caring and always lovely to residents, families and staff.

Colleagues who work alongside Lismatu on our Kensington Suite flag up her polite, caring and professional attitude. She is hardworking, good with residents, always willing to assist her fellow workers and an all-round good team player.

Well done to both.

Dancers Bring a Touch of Spanish Sunshine

It wasn’t quite the Costa del Sol but there was certainly plenty of sunshine in the smiles of residents as they were entertained by a group of Spanish Folk Dancers.

Led by Elsa Perez, the nine-strong troupe, dressed in colourful national dress, are all members of a dance class. They have enjoyed the nature of the Spanish dance so much they have stayed together and now perform as an informal group. Indeed, it was they who approached CNC to ask if they could come along and perform for us.

There was much swishing of skirts, hand clapping and stamping of feet. Several residents were so caught up in the atmosphere they were keen to join in and were taken through some of the basic steps.

It was almost a fiesta. All that was missing was a large pan of paella cooking over a fire, endless jugs of sangria and the smell of the sea wafting on a warm evening breeze.

Employee Award Goes Behind the Scenes

February’s Employee of the Month award has gone to someone who has been quietly working behind the scenes for many years, helping to keep our teams supplied with the items they need to do their jobs and to keep our residents healthy and well cared for. 

Joao De Araujo, better known to us all as Alberto, is an invaluable member of our Housekeeping team. He has been with us for the best part of 15 years and his nomination was put forward by staff from a variety of different departments who have been impressed by his diligence, friendly demeanour, hard work, helpfulness and energy.

Well done Alberto for your affable approach and dedication to keeping the wheels turning here at The Chiswick for so many years. Here’s to many more.

Spring Blooms

Spring is in the air. Trees are bursting into blossom and the first bulbs are already flowering so what better time to make our own floral creations?

Chiswick residents had the opportunity to do just that under the expert tutelage of the multi-talented performance artist, Kitty Finer. Working with paper, they were able to harness their creative talents to fashion the most stunning and delicate flower displays.

Kitty boasts a varied and illustrious career with many strings to her bow. She is an artist, singer songwriter, lecturer, and workshop leader specialising in working with people with dementia living in residential care, which is what connects her with The Chiswick.

The flower workshop gave everyone the chance to create something they could be proud of. The concentration and manual dexterity were good for both mind and body, plus they all enjoyed the camaraderie generated by the experience.

Didn’t They Do Well?

Our apologies for being a little late in reporting our December Employee of the Month award but it took a while to get the recipients together. We had not one, two or even three winners but the entire staff on our Belgravia Suite. This provides high quality care to residents who are frail and elderly, and who need nurses to help them maintain a good quality of life. It embraces those with regular and high needs as well as residents who require specialist input – for instance in areas such as tissue viability to treat and prevent pressure sores acquired at home or hospital.

The team was nominated for the award by the relative of a Belgravia Suite resident. The citation included the sentiment “thank you for your kind and loving care for my father. Everyone is so attentive and friendly to him and us”.

Well done to everyone involved.

Suraj and Naman Go Above and Beyond

We are delighted to announce a dual award for our January Employee of the Month. In addition, it gives us great pleasure that recognition goes to recipients who come from differing job disciplines to our more usual nursing or health care assistant roles.

Suraj Das joined our maintenance department as recently as October 2023 but has already impressed. Colleagues say he is always obliging, works with a smile, never says ‘no’, goes above and beyond and never complains.

Also going beyond the goals set is Naman Melata, who works as part of our physiotherapy team. Naman has been with us since December 2022 and, six months later, gained his official registration with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC). This is the legal requirement to work within the UK health and care sector.

His teammates say he works so hard and they know they can always count on him. He too, never complains. ‘Naman is reliable and expresses sincere devotion to customer satisfaction. It’s been a pleasure working with him,’ says his citation for the award.

Well done to both and long may they remain with us at The Chiswick.

Duty of Care Completed

We have a bumper bundle of staff achievers to congratulate. No fewer than 22 relatively new members of our team have completed the Care Certificate workbook, which represents the first stage of their training.

The Care Certificate has been developed by Health Education England and Skills for Care to offer personnel starting out or working in the health care sector the opportunity to improve or refresh their knowledge and skills. It forms the core of our continuous training and development programme, here at The Chiswick, and covers 15 standards which participants are required to meet and evidence . These include: understanding your role, communication, privacy and dignity, fluids and nutrition, safeguarding vulnerable adults  and infection prevention and control.

The initial training takes about 12 weeks to complete and certificates are then awarded and celebrated. The workbook itself has a section at the back where learners can record their understanding of the training and how it will benefit their care to our residents. It also provides a helpful refresher for those updating their skills and knowledge gained in other locations. There is then the opportunity for anyone progressing in their careers to work towards a Higher Development Award with support from our training team.

Centre Director, Steve Winter, who is pictured with four of our recipients, Gerrard, Caroline, Lawrence and Flavia, said: “Congratulations to all those who worked so hard and diligently to achieve their certificates. They should be proud of this achievement. We hope they have enjoyed the first stage of their training journey with us and that they will continue on the path to long and successful careers as part of The Chiswick’s team.”

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