The Health Investor Awards for 2011 were announced at an event held at the Grosvenor House Hotel in central London, which brought together more than 1,000 guests from the UK’s health and social care sector. Entries in 21 categories were judged by a panel of 12 independent experts.
The judges said that Care UK was a “well established provider, setting out a well thought-through expansion plan”. They also praised its “excellent track record of working in partnership with the NHS and local authorities” and said it “will have an increasing influence on this sector and always operates to the highest quality”. They especially noted its “excellent track record in providing good quality, innovative care.”
With quality of care being high on the public agenda at the moment, Care UK is proud of the fact that 96 per cent of its residential care services have been judged to be excellent or good, and none are rated poor.
Care UK’s managing director of residential care, Helen Owens, is pleased that an innovative approach to caring for older people has been publicly recognised. She said: “We are committed to offering the highest quality service to our residents and their families. This award is a tribute to the hard work and compassionate care that my team delivers every day.”
One example of the innovations which helped Care UK to scoop the top award is its new approach to caring for residents with dementia. Care UK’s in-house dementia care specialists have taken advice from experts from the University of Stirling to develop a brand new way of training staff. The course uses techniques which have their roots in drama therapy to show staff how empathy and active listening can help residents. It actually gives staff a memorable taste of what it might be like to have dementia and the training has shown very positive results in terms of the differences made to the way care is delivered.
In particular, the training encourages staff to think laterally about what a resident with dementia might be experiencing. For instance, if someone gets agitated when looking through a window, this behaviour could be interpreted as having hallucinations. In fact, because of poor eyesight and the impaired cognitive skills associated with dementia, the resident could simply be seeing their own reflection in the glass, failing to recognise their older image and then becoming alarmed about a stranger outside. The solution isn’t medication, but simply closing window blinds or curtains for the resident at certain times of the day. By really listening to and observing residents, and thinking through each situation, the best methods can be found to offer happy and fulfilled lives even when behaviours may at first seem odd or even challenging.
Care UK currently runs 57 care homes and two day centres for more than 3,400 older people and it is planning to open 30 more across the UK in the next five years, three of which will open in the next 10 months. It currently offers places to residents funded by local authorities as well as those who pay for their own care.
The residential care provider of the year award for Care UK follows on from previous successes in the Health Investor awards, as the company has twice won the category of primary care provider of the year for its GP surgeries and walk-in centres.