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Suffolk care home achieves outstanding rating

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A canine relations manager, a pub and a twilight club for residents who can’t sleep are just some of the ingredients that have led to Care UK’s Mildenhall Lodge care home being rated as ‘outstanding’ by the CQC.

The ethos of the home is focused entirely on residents, with the inspector’s report highlighting that care planning was extremely person-centred. The report noted key features which made the home an outstanding place to live, including an in-house pub and cinema, regular trips out for residents, and Sinbad, the home’s much-loved adopted dog, who has been given the job title of canine relations manager.

Social inclusion was an important part of day to day life at Mildenhall Lodge. The Lark Café is situated in the main entrance hall of the home, and throughout the inspectors’ visit it was a hive of social activity and a community in its own right within the home.

Another key social space in the home was highlighted as the in-house pub, named the ‘QE2 Tavern’ by the residents. This area is set out like a real pub, complete with oak bar, pool table and bar stools. A team member commented: “Families have pub lunches here with their relatives. They just let the kitchen know what they would like. Often, it’s scampi and chips, real pub food”.

Residents were empowered to be involved in all aspects of running the home, and a ‘resident ambassador’ had been introduced. Jean Fincham was described as ‘an instrumental part of the home’, who was supported and empowered by the home manager Katy to take part in the recruitment of the team. During the visit, inspectors saw that Jean was interviewing new and perspective team members alongside the home management team.

A voting system had also been put in place, so that residents could vote on decisions in the home. A recent vote had seen residents decide to adopt a dog – which resulted in Sinbad joining the team. One resident said: “I love having Sinbad here. He reminds me of my last pet although my dog was a bit smaller and not so well behaved! When I feel well enough I sometimes accompany the team when they exercise Sinbad which I greatly enjoy”.

A team member said: “It’s astonishing how he [Sinbad] makes people light up. One resident who doesn’t like to leave their room very much will come downstairs specifically to have a cuddle with Sinbad.”

The home manager had also introduced a ‘Twilight Club’ to support residents living with dementia, who often don’t have regular sleeping patterns. The club is the chance to have a ‘cuppa’, a conversation and some meaningful activity. This is a new scheme at the home and already a couple of residents have joined.

Life story books were highlighted as an important communication tool. The team used these books, which include the life history of residents, important memories, as well as hobbies, to engage with people and as a conversation starter.

The report noted that engaging with the local community was a key part of life at Mildenhall Lodge. The home hired a minibus which enabled residents to take trips to the seaside and other care homes nearby. In keeping with the home’s culture, residents voted on where they wished to visit.

Home manager, Katy Hughes, was recognised for demonstrating outstanding leadership and was described as accomplished, knowledgeable and highly motivated. Residents and their relatives considered the leadership of the home outstanding, and the culture excellent in meeting residents’ needs in a person-centred way.

The report said Katy was “clearly extremely enthusiastic about the home and care delivered”, and team members were committed to the residents that live at Mildenhall Lodge – a culture that was clearly led by the home manager. Relatives and residents told the inspectors that the home has exceptionally caring and attentive team members.

Katy said: “We strive to create a welcoming home from home feel at Mildenhall Lodge and I’m so pleased our continued efforts have been recognised by the CQC’s inspectors. Everyone here works incredibly hard to provide residents with compassionate, person-centred care, and to be rated ‘outstanding’ shows just how committed the team is to making a positive difference to resident’s lives each and every day.

“I’m extremely proud of our team and I would like to say thank you for their hard work and dedication, which I know is also greatly appreciated by residents and their families.”

Jemima Burnage, CQC’s head of inspection for adult social care in the central region said: “Our inspection team was really impressed by the level of care and support offered to people at Mildenhall Lodge, which we found gave them an enhanced sense of quality of life and well-being.

“The service was extremely well managed by an accomplished, knowledgeable and highly motivated registered manager. There was lots of highly positive feedback about the home and caring nature of staff from people and relatives.

“The registered manager and staff were proud of where they worked and committed to delivering a high standard of care. People's care needs were extremely well understood and responded to by staff who knew them exceptionally well.

“People were very much encouraged to have a voice and have input into their care. Care planning was extremely person centred, and where people were living with dementia, their relatives and friends had been fully involved in the planning of their care to achieve personalised care plans according to their individual needs.

“Staff recognised the importance of friendship and people maintaining relationships with their families. The home had a social media web page which was kept up to date primarily by the registered manager. The site was used to keep families and friends updated about events at the home. All of this meant people received a high standard of care, which is why it has been rated outstanding.”

Andrea Sutcliffe, chief inspector of adult social care at the CQC, said: “The quality of care which our inspectors found here was exceptional and I am very pleased that we can celebrate the service’s achievements. An outstanding service is the result of a tremendous amount of hard work and commitment. I would like to thank and congratulate everyone involved.”

Click here to read Mildenhall Lodge's outstanding CQC report.

Mildenhall Lodge care home provides residential, dementia and nursing care. 78 per cent of Care UK’s homes are now rated as good or excellent by the CQC. This is Care UK’s second home to be rated as outstanding – the first was Broadwater Lodge in Surrey.

For more general information about the home, visit

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