Investing in our Care Home Leaders

February 3, 2023


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The Care Home Pioneers programme is a leadership support and professional development programme for care home leaders in south London. To date, we have supported over 70 care home managers, nurses and senior deputies on the programme, facilitating their personal growth in order to deal with the complexities of care home life.

On 7 December, the Health Innovation Network welcomed participants from the latest cohort of the programme to their graduation ceremony. The day celebrated all the Pioneers’ achievements over the course of the programme. Andrea Carter, the Healthy Ageing team’s Programme Director, reflects on the day and the importance of supporting the professional development of care home leaders.  

Inspiring, humbling, innovative.

These were the one-word descriptions given by participants and stakeholders at a recent celebration which concluded a leadership development programme for care home managers.

Care home managers became all of our heroes during the pandemic. Nightly news coverage described the challenges they faced trying to safeguard their residents, while implementing policy decisions which changed weekly, if not daily.

Over the past nine months, the Health Innovation Network, in partnership with My Home Life, has supported over 30 ‘Care Home Pioneers’ – managers leading care homes in south London. This is part of our wider programme of collaborative learning opportunities, designed to support our health and care workforce in developing technical and leadership skills and real-world improvement projects.

During the programme, we witnessed emotionally bruised staff recovering, re-committing themselves to the challenge, and striving for improvement: for themselves and their residents. The resilience and kindness of this particular group shone through and will stay with me for a long time, even after 27 years working in health and social care.

At the end of the programme the Pioneers shared their experiences and described their needs going forward.

Many described their gratitude for the ‘safe space’ that the programme provided, to discuss challenges, as well as develop creative solutions to common problems. A few explained how the programme had enabled them to secure promotion within the care home sector.

The resilience and kindness of this particular group shone through and will stay with me for a long time, even after 27 years working in health and social care. Andrea Carter, Programme Director, Healthy Ageing team

Innovation was evident. Quality Improvement projects delivered during the programme covered a breadth of topics, including how to escalate concerns to health service colleagues when residents became unwell, new ways of supporting residents to live well with dementia, and creative approaches to encourage residents to eat and drink well.

This poster presentation and video describe their achievements in more detail. Additionally, the South London Care Home Pioneer Programme 2022: Cohort 4 poster can be found here.

We’re all familiar with the extreme challenges of providing emergency care in the current climate. In London, recent data suggests that the number of care home residents represents 0.4 per cent of the population, yet accounts for around 4 per cent of ambulance conveyances and around 10 per cent of occupied hospital bed days.

Care home staff often tell us their residents do not wish to be taken to hospital, and it is vitally important that we get our escalation response right for residents, as well as for the wider system.

To achieve this, continued dialogue with care home leaders is vital. They understand the factors that come into play when determining how an unwell resident can receive the right care in the right place at the right time, including how to ensure their residents don’t suffer the indignity of death in an unfamiliar place.

Care home leaders need to be able to share their wisdom as true partners in delivering health and social care. Let’s not forget the knowledge amongst this group of leaders, and all strive to ensure that we embrace the opportunities afforded by Integrated Care Systems and Local Care Partnerships by properly engaging them in local debate.

HIN colleagues at the Care Home Pioneers graduation ceremony

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For more information about the 2023 Care Home Pioneer Programme, please get in touch.

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