In this section you’ll find News on MHL activities; a blog with good practice stories from care homes across the UK (don’t forget to share your own stories!); info for press and our library of resources and videos.
News and Media
Care homes play a vital part in supporting families, especially at times of transition. Working with relatives can be rewarding, complex and at times challenging.
The latest My Home Life bulletin celebrates the great work that managers and staff do to support families when they visit and offers some examples of good practice from relatives and staff.
Thanks for reading and please keep sending in your great stories!
How to make the most of mealtimes in care homes.
In our new bulletin we talk about food – everyones favourite subject. But, it is not just the food that makes mealtimes enjoyable. We asked care homes around the UK for their best practice tips for when it comes to creating a social mealtime, increasing appetites and involving residents, relatives and staff in decision making.
ALIVE IN ME – By Tudor Evans, Hengoed Park
I can still hear her singing
in her high, clear voice
humming around our house
two streets from the colliery,
riddling the ashes
from the stove in the scullery.
I can still feel his strong arms around me,
carrying me to the mine
to lie by the huge fan, 28 feet tall,
the lungs of the pit,
to cure my whooping cough.
My Mother, my father,
They’re alive in me.
I see her young,
glossy hair marcel-waved,
in her yellow twin set with the nipped-in waist,
laughing, joy blazing out
like a firework flaring
I remember him at my bedside
His big hands placing the candles,
To drive my nightmares away.
Still keeping me safe, they’re alive in me.
Writing ‘Alive in Me.’
Deb Llewellyn, creative writer, told us about how she worked with Tudor to create the poem ‘Alive in me.’
“For the last two years I have worked as a Writer in Residence for Age Cymru, in two care homes in the Swansea Valley. I listen to the residents and work collaboratively with them to form their words into poems – sometimes based on stories and memories, sometimes in response to stimuli such as paintings, photographs and objects.
It was in Hengoed Court, Swansea that I met Tudor Evans, and it was a privilege to write this poem with him. We wrote it over the course of several individual sessions. Tudor shared his memories with me of growing up in the mining town of Grovesend near Pontarddulais. His father was a miner and we spoke at length about his work.
As a young boy, Tudor caught whooping cough and his parents feared for his life. One night Tudor was struggling for breath, and in desperation, his father carried him to the enormous fan which circulated air throughout the pit. He believed that being in this strong air current would allow Tudor to breathe. It worked, and Tudor recovered. The vivid childhood memories that Tudor has of his parents form the core of this poem. Writing it was his act of tribute to them.”
What makes a good care home?
Mum never wanted to go into a care home; she used to say “they are all full of old people sitting around sleeping.” She based this on her visits to ‘old people’s homes’ when she used to entertain them as a member of her local church club choir – when she was in her eighties!
Her memory was deteriorating, and it was becoming more obvious that despite the home care she was receiving in addition to the many hours of family care, this was not enough to keep her well and safe at home.
We found a lovely care home. I was given a ‘fob’ to open the front door and I was told this is your Mum’s home, so come and go as you please; just visit her like you did before.
Mum was so happy, she had her own room, personalised with photographs and memorabilia, she had her own TV and her daily newspaper delivered.
She went out in the minibus, she enjoyed activities, she had her hair done, and her feet! She was also able to attend a church services on Sunday which was very important to her. There was such a friendly relaxed atmosphere, no set meal times or routines, everything revolved around how people were and what they wanted to do and at what time. Person-centred care at its very best. Mum enjoyed many impromptu sing-a-longs, and an old film on TV or making cakes, which were then eaten for tea. She loved hats and beads and would select a hat and beads from the coat stand in the corridor whenever she passed by I never knew what she would be wearing on her head when I visited!
The wonderful staff knew Mum so well, her likes, dislikes and little foibles; they treated her with compassion, devotion and humour.
There were phone calls on days when Mum was having a really good day, very bright and alert and staff wanted me to know so that I could visit her and enjoy this.
So many things that made a difference; when Mum went off her food, a carer went out and bought a variety of snacks which were then left for her to eat at will and when Mum returned from hospital following a fall, carers were able to rehabilitate her and get her walking again where the hospital had failed.
At the end of her life Mum became weak, spending much of the time asleep. During that time she was never alone, and everything was done to keep her comfortable. The last days of her life were calm and serene; she was cared for by carers who knew and loved her and this gave me great comfort.
Many thanks to Marianne Manser for sharing her story.
“I am taking out sharing, friendship, and continuity of My Home Life Suffolk – lets meet again”
These were the words of one care home manager who, along with 20 others, attended a day together last week to celebrate the completion of the leadership support programme and to explore how they can continue the momentum in Suffolk.
This impressive group of managers have taken great strides in leading their homes to deliver quality of life and are now associates of the My Home Life national movement.
Congratulations to these managers in Essex who have completed the first Domiciliary Care Leadership Support programme with My Home Life. We have loved working with these great people who have and continue to do amazing work in promoting quality of life for our frailest citizens.
If you’re interested in the Leadership Support programme or the other packages of support MHL offer, visit our Working Together section.
A birthday present to our network
Over the coming 12 months, we will be sending out a host of tools, badges, stickers and briefings to our network to help them celebrate the great things that they are doing in care homes and share their great stories with us!
Celebrating the great work that you are delivering
We will be taking part in events across the country (list of UK events coming soon) to celebrate the great work we are doing and keep sharing stories of best practice on our website.
Creating new insights and evidence
We will be updating the evidence base for quality in care homes and sharing new insights and stories that come out of the year’s celebrations.
New images of the evidence base of My Home Life are now available to download!
These posters show all the components of the MHL vision – as well as how they all fit together. Huge thanks to the team in MHL Scotland who have been working hard to bring these together!
You can download posters on the individual aspects of the evidence base:
Our latest email update is below – free to all – sign up on this page
Thank you so much for your tips on supporting managers and care home teams to take care of themselves at times of stress.
We’ve collected some of your advice into our new bulletin ‘Looking after yourself and those around you’, out now in Care Management Matters and on our website.
“I have had a lived experience of a Northern Irish care home doing really, really well in the dying process.”
A story from Slieve na Mon Nursing Home in Northern Ireland has been featured by the BBC – telling a tale of a family being supported through their father’s death.
The item, from a care home whose manager recently completed the My Home Life Leadership Support programme, tells the story of the McHugh family.
We’re delighted to see such a wonderful story in the press about the brilliant end of life care provided by the nursing home – not only for Mr McHugh himself, but for his whole family. It’s a testament to them that the family felt so moved they wanted to share their story with the world.
You can hear the interview on BBC Radio Ulster.
And read ‘How can we wake our father in a nursing home?’ on the BBC News website.