Jane Higgins joined Kingsfield in January 2015 and has been getting a helping hand – or paw – in her new role from Morse. Not the doleful detective, but her five year old miniature schnauzer.
Jane got Morse as a puppy and chose the name as she’s a fan of the TV detective. “Morse is our unofficial head of security, so he’s a little like his namesake,” laughs Jane. “He always walks ahead of me to check everything out. The team say that they know when I’m coming, because Morse appears first!”
Jane has only been home manager at Kingsfield since January. Before joining the home she managed a couple of Care UK’s NHS treatment centres. She also commissioned a new build care home and assisted living development near Tunbridge Wells.
Kingsfield is a large, modern care home, with capacity for 90 residents, so Jane has her work cut out getting to know everyone. Having Morse around definitely helps. Although he can often be found sleeping in his basket in Jane’s office, Morse escorts her on her regular walks around the home. “He takes a very gentle and slow approach with residents, never running or jumping up. He doesn’t go into residents’ rooms (unless invited of course) but he likes to check everyone’s okay as he wonders up and down the corridor,” Jane says.
He seems to have won over all the residents, their families and colleagues in a matter of the few weeks that he’s been ‘in role’ and already has everyone well trained! Jane was in a recent meeting with a resident’s family when one of them got up and went to the door. When Jane asked if they were okay they said, “I’m just letting the dog in.” A couple of residents have adopted the role of Morse wranglers – stopping him from eating the bread that falls off the bird table in the garden. And when he recently attended a training session at the home and wouldn’t stop mooching about, a member of the team popped out and returned with his basket. He promptly went to sleep in it and started snoring!
“Morse the detective was quite precise about the things he liked: real ale, opera and the like,” says Jane. “My Morse is quite clear about what he likes: he can only go to sleep on carpet or in his basket!”
Residents’ relatives even bring their own dogs in to meet Morse. “Having a friendly dog around that everyone loves really does help to make Kingsfield feel like a true home for residents,” says Jane.
Morse is on his best behaviour at Kingsfield, but back when he was a pup it was a different story. Jane remembers getting a call from her local Tesco store telling her that two puppies were at its entrance trying to get in. “Morse and his sister Ruby had escaped from the garden and decided to go shopping!” she says. “These days he’s a lot better behaved.”
Next time you’re passing the home on Jubilee Way in Faversham, pop in and say hi to Morse and the team. If you’re lucky he may be in the foyer greeting visitors (and signing autographs) and if you need anything from the shops…