Principles of Care
The needs of residents vary greatly, because for each person the impact of their illness is different, and will progress through different stages. One person may refuse to be helped in any way, believing herself to be fully competent and independent. Another person may be restless, irritable and needing an outlet for his energies, too bewildered to settle to anything. Yet another person may be frail, frightened, no longer able to walk, and dependent on others to support the simplest functions of her daily life. And so on… The aim of Vale House is to understand and embrace this variety, and to match our care to the unique needs of each of our residents, from the day they come to us till the day they die.
‘Among friends’: The Vale House model of care
The ethos of the home is to see in each of our residents the person that they are now, and were in their lives before, rather than the problems they present. We respect their adult status and their individual needs; we stress the principles of privacy and dignity, and recognise people’s right of choice as far as their capacity permits. We remind ourselves that each resident has been and remains part of a family and a community - for example, we keep photographs of all residents when they were well on display in the lounge.
A full range of comforts, and careful attention to detail
- Very good specialised equipment, chairs, baths and beds are provided. These include air-flow mattresses, special chairs with pressure-relieving cushions, showers and baths with disabled access and an Arjo hydrotherapy bath which is available for all residents.
- Meals are freshly cooked in-house every day by an excellent chef using best quality produce and are both nutritious and much appreciated. Family members or local volunteers often come to help at mealtimes.
- Hairdressing and aromatherapy services are provided for residents.
- Volunteers and local groups help to encourage recreational activities such as short outings or singing.
- Relatives are encouraged to be involved as much or as little as they wish and are welcome to visit at any time.
A team of dedicated and well-trained staff
The nursing care at Vale House is provided by a team of experienced care assistants and qualified nurses throughout the 24 hours. All staff hold dementia care certificates. They are led by Tricia O’Leary, the Head of Home (Manager) who is a registered nurse who is well qualified. She holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Managing Health & Social Care and has NVQ Level 4 in Management.
A defining characteristic of the work of Vale House is the emphasis placed on the education of every member of the team through mentoring, supervision and support from the more senior staff to more junior, and through attending training courses and working towards higher qualifications. Learning in the home focuses on nursing skills for all aspects of physical and psychological care in dementia. These range from the management of aggression or other kinds of difficult behaviour, to the provision of expert palliative care at the end of life. It is the flexible use of this broad range of skills, by all levels of staff, that creates the unique character of Vale House care.
The commitment of the home’s Trustees and management has been essential in the development of such a skilful and highly motivated team. Crucial to achieving this goal are: an enhanced staff-to-patient ratio, the sharing and discussion of explicit values, zero tolerance (on the rare occasions, happily) when practice falls short of the best, as well as thoughtful concern for the welfare and happiness of the staff themselves. (Staff who are not cared for cannot care well for others).