Closing Care Home Week with a guest poem from Audrey Fessler

As we come to the end of the first ever Care Home Week in Scotland, we wanted to share an insight into care home life from the perspective of a resident and those who support her.  After all, they are the most important element of care home life.

Thanks to all who have helped us to celebrate the week - see you next year!

Audrey Fessler

Audrey has been with us at the Hilltop unit of Bandrum Nursing Home since January 2016. She moved into Hilltop from her own home in Nottingham. She will be 91 years young on her next birthday.

Audrey chose Bandrum to be her home of choice in December 2015 but chose to stay home for Christmas and then move up to Scotland in the New Year. She loves the company, beautiful scenery and nature that surround Bandrum and is still a practicing quaker.

Family is important to Audrey and the move into Bandrum allowed Audrey to be closer to her family who live near. She also keeps in regular contact with family who live further away and Skypes her son in Denmark weekly.

Some words of admiration from Audrey’s nurse , Jenny:

“Audrey read language and literature at Oxford University and has taught with many different establishments such as the Open University. After starting a family, Audrey was a part time careers advisor in Nottingham University. Audrey also obtained a PHD studying social aspects of children academic performance studying the work of Dr Elizabeth Newson who was paramount in discovering dyslexia. Her husband was a professor and both were very clever. She is probably the cleverest person we will ever meet.”

Audrey has shared with us a poem she has written as part of Care Home Week.

“Vision from Bedroom Window” by Audrey Fessler

Life is Change
Light to Dark
Love is blossom
Needing Nurture
Lasting forever

There are no better words to end a fantastic week of celebration. 


Care Home Week 17: Guest blog from Iriss

Care Homes and Community

Scotland’s shift towards delivering more support for older people in a community setting has led to lengthy debate and discussion on the future role of residential care. There has been a national push to ensure that care homes don’t become ‘islands of the old’, but are seen as community assets integrated into daily life.

The future of residential care report highlighted the importance of community involvement to encourage more volunteering in care homes. It also placed emphasis on the importance of flexibility from the Care Inspectorate when it came to registered care homes providing an outreach service to non-residents in the local community.

As it’s Care Home Week, we thought it was a good opportunity to flag our 2014 project with Ardenlee care home and Scottish Care, and to highlight the learning and tools that could be used by other care homes around similar initiatives.

Sunday lunch club

The idea for Ardenlee was simply to invite isolated older people in the community to attend a Sunday lunch and afternoon of activities at the care home. At the time of the project, Ardenlee was experiencing lower occupancy, which prompted management to reflect on the role of the care home going forward. Aware that the landscape of care was changing, they wanted to start exploring other ways they could be using the space they had available.

The work aimed to:

  • Dispel myths associated with care homes: that they are just places people go to die
  • Support older isolated people in the community to access social/peer support in a safe setting
  • Raise the profile of the care home’s respite service among the community as a place where people can maintain their independence
  • Explore alternative uses of long-term residential care homes to begin to plan for the future

Eligibility criteria was developed for the Sunday lunch club to ensure that they were able to meet the outcomes of guests without compromising the quality of care for their residents.

What worked?

  • Engaging early with residents, families and staff about the idea to understand their hopes and fears as well as give them some ownership of the process.
  • Engaging with the community (including the befrienders, Crossroad Carers and various care at home providers) to understand what was available and where the gaps were.
  • Building a robust business case with associated risk assessments. This included looking at all the policies in the home and considering how they may be impacted by the lunch club. This supported the case for the Care Inspectorate and helped management understand impact.
  • Identifying a geographical catchment which was enough to include some very rural areas, but still manageable in terms of transport.
  • Meeting with the local care inspector to pitch the idea and work together to make sure the service could work in a way that meets care standards.

Are you interested in opening up more in the community? The full project story provides further learning, details of the outcomes for the residents / guests, and helpful tips.

You may also be interested in our Outcomes in a care home setting cards to support delivering outcomes-focused care.

Dreaming: Wishing Well

On the final day of #carehomeweek17 our theme is #dreaming. Below we learn more about Kingdom Homes Wishing Well initiative.

Kingdom Homes has 10 care homes located throughout Fife each home dedicated to either nursing care, residential care or specialist dementia care. Within each of our care homes we ask residents to let us know if they have a dream to take part in an activity or a special day out by posting a “wish” in the Wishing Well. The Wishing Well is located in the Reception area of each home.

We have granted many wishes over the years including –

  • Taken a gentleman who for many years was manager of a cinema to a modern day cinema to see behind the scenes, how films are shown today. His wife and son were able to accompany him on the visit too.
  • The honour of taking a gentleman, the last remaining member of his Black Watch regiment, to the Black watch Museum in Perth to see the Weeping Window poppy display.
  • Taken several gentlemen to Ibrox football stadium to see their favourite football team’s ground.
  • Taking a gentleman to the paper mill where he worked all his adult life to see how the modern day mill operates. To his delight, when he was presented with a hardback copy of the firm’s history book, he discovered a photograph of himself in his apprentice days was published in it.
  • Several ladies have been taken on special shopping trips.
  • A retired bus driver gentleman went to Stonehaven for the day, his favourite destination when he used to drive coach loads of day trippers during his working life. Kingdom Homes’ minibus was at his disposal for the day and he was able to plan the route with our driver. He enjoyed lunch in one of Stonehaven’s pubs before returning home.
  • Another lady wanted to go for a drive into the Scottish countryside so she and a couple of other lady residents that she is very friendly with went to Pitlochry for the day, enjoying the beautiful scenery on the journey.
  • A wish was granted to take a lady and some of her family, back to Craigtoun Caravan Park near St Andrews where she and her husband first set up home together.


At Kingdom Homes we are delighted to be able to grant these wishes – the smiles on the faces of our residents and their families who accompany them are worth every bit of work that goes into organising the trips. We are humble to make their dreams come true, making new memories and stimulating old ones for very special people.

Latest blog from our CEO: the Power to Dream

Rituals and routines are important and one of mine is that as I get my 2 and ¾ year old daughter up in the morning (the ¾ is important in nursery politics) I ask her did she have any dreams. She usually – unless grumpiness is present due to the early rise – says ‘Yes.’ When then asked ‘What about?’ She replies, ‘Monkeys and crocodiles’. Never ‘Crocodiles and monkeys.’

I am one of these folks who has never been able, with the odd exception, to remember my dreams but I know that the world of dreams is a very important part of our health and wellbeing. Yet despite years of analysis and debate from Jung to Wallace, why we dream remains one of the great mysteries of psychology. Some say its to do with consolidating our memories, others that dreams provide an enactment of threats to prepare response, and yet others that they are to do with regulating our emotions. Hundreds upon hundreds of books have been written about dreaming not least around the belief that dreams are a gate to greater insight, and in some cultures that they provide insight into the future in the nature of being premonitions.

Not surprisingly I am not going to discern that mystery today – give me some more sleep and I will try.

But there is another sense in which we talk about dreaming and that is the imagining of a world or a reality which is different to the one we are currently experiencing. Perhaps this sense was best encapsulated by Martin Luther King whose immortal speech, ‘I have a dream’ led a people to struggle and gain freedom from discriminatory law and behaviour in the 1960s Civil Rights movement.

Today is the last day of the inaugural Care Home Week and it is about ‘dreaming…’ It is a day where you are invited to dream with your imagination firmly rooted in reality about a new future and about different possibilities for the shape and life of care homes in Scotland.

We know the challenges that we face with an ageing population and reducing resources. We know the need to attract more and more committed individuals to work in our care homes and to properly reward and respect those who dedicate their lives to the work of care. But we also have, in the midst of challenge, to give space to be able to dream. We have to have the power to imagine better.

What do we want care homes to be and to look like?

Might we dream of a time when the old are not just considered as recipients of care and support but are recognised as contributors and valued citizens with still much to give?

Might we dream of a time when the physical care home building was a place at the heart of our community with doors open in safety to a neighbourhood which saw it as a place of happiness and enjoyment; of value and worth; of insight and surprise?

Might we dream of care as being seen as a critical role for our society intrinsic to making us a human community, well-valued, with good status and appropriate remuneration? A role held equally by men as by women, by the young as well as those not so young.

Might we dream of care homes being sufficiently resourced that they are able to be properly staffed so as to offer excellence in the care and support of conditions as diverse as dementia or multiple sclerosis or cancer?

Might we dream of care homes as places where poets and painters, musicians and politicians, dancers and dreamers live and spend their time? Places where death sits as comfortably as life, where honesty abounds and risks are entertained?

Might we dream together and make our dreams for care homes a reality for as John Lennon once said:

A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.

Happy care home dreaming.

Donald Macaskill


Care Home Week: Volunteering in Care Homes resources

As part of Volunteering Day in Care Home Week 2017, we thought it might be helpful to highlight a resource which can support care homes to understand the value of volunteers and to help them to develop volunteering opportunities in their services.  Whilst this is an English-based piece of work, its messages and learning resonate more widely:

NCVO – Volunteering in Care Homes 

Volunteering in Care Homes was a national three year pilot project, funded by the Department of Health. It provided opportunities for care homes and their local communities to work together to:

  • enhance quality of life
  • build cohesive communities
  • enable active citizenship.

The project has produced a final evaluation report (PDF, 300KB) and a suite of resources to support care home owners, managers and staff in the development of volunteering opportunities within their homes.

Guest blog from Rami Okasha: ‘Volunteers Make All the Difference’

Volunteers make all the difference

Rami Okasha, Executive Director of Strategy and Improvement, Care Inspectorate

Involving people in decisions about their care is at the heart of high-quality social care. It’s a core principle that underpins Scotland’s new Health and Social Care Standards, published just last week.

At the Care Inspectorate, we take the same approach to scrutiny. We try to involve volunteers and people with care experience across all our work. Supported by a dedicated involvement and equalities team, our volunteers play a central role in helping us to assess quality and understand how well care is being delivered.

Nearly 100 people volunteer with the Care Inspectorate as inspection volunteers and young inspectors. When we carry out an inspection, one of them goes with the inspector to where the care is being delivered, talks to people and hears their views. Often, they speak with carers too.

Each volunteer brings their own personal experience of care and so can share a really unique perspective of what it is like to experience care. They are experts by experience. This can lead to really supportive and empowering conversations with people experiencing care, to understand what life is like for them, good and bad. Sometimes, people are more willing to speak about concerns to an inspection volunteer than the inspector themselves, so it is a powerful way to ensure those views are heard too. Last year, our inspection volunteers spoke with over 5,500 people who experience care.

Young inspectors are specially trained people aged 18 – 24 years, who themselves have experience of the care system. They work with our large-scale joint inspections of services for young people provided in each local area across Scotland. They join the team of inspectors to speak to young people, discuss their observations and findings with senior officers, and ensure a really personal understanding of care is at the heart of assessing quality.

Not all our volunteers want to take part in inspections. Some advise us on our work in other ways. Our Involving People Group is made up of people experiencing care, including carers. The national group meets quarterly at venues across Scotland. It is an open, friendly and welcoming group and the members have a role in shaping Care Inspectorate policy and strategy. Members are also involved in recruitment of new staff  – I was interviewed by one of our involved people when applying for my job. They also play an important role in responding to policy and consultations from other organisations. For example, they were instrumental in advising on the new care standards, stressing how important it is that the standards enable positive risk which supports people to live their lives in the way they want.

For the Care Inspectorate, volunteering is something that needs to be open to all, regardless of background and ability. Our involvement co-ordinators support people to participate and volunteer on their own terms. In the last few months, with the support of our dementia consultant and dementia campaigners, we have run a pilot to involve people with a diagnosis of dementia as inspection volunteers.

This ground-breaking work involved people with a diagnosis of dementia speaking directly to others experiencing care. The inspection volunteers fed back and used their personal observations to help make improvements. For example, in one care home the inspection volunteer noted how support for people during mealtimes led to difficulties for some people living with dementia. The manager used this information to improve the mealtime experience. In another care home, inspection volunteers pointed out that using pictorial signage as well as wording to indicate different areas or rooms would be helpful for them. In a third care home, volunteers pointed out that the lighting levels were too low for them in some areas. We are delighted that many of the inspection volunteers involved in the pilot have decided to remain with us and continue their work.

This commitment to involving people in care scrutiny was recognised when the Care Inspectorate worked together to be awarded with the Investing in Volunteers accreditation last year. Investing in Volunteers is not easy to get: it is the quality standard for good practice in supporting volunteers and we are extremely proud to have achieved it.

As an organisation, we truly recognise the commitment and dedication of volunteers and celebrate the difference they make to our work and improving care in Scotland. We’d love if you want to be involved too.

Want to find out more? You can read more about volunteering with us on our Get Involved page at


Rami Okasha

Care Inspectorate




Care Home Week: the Volunteer Quality Standard

Investing in Volunteers (IiV) and Investing in Volunteer for Employers are the UK’s quality standards for organisations within all sectors who have an interest in volunteer participation.

Through these quality frameworks, organisations will be given the opportunity to explore their current volunteer programme against national best practice. This will create an organisation’s volunteer baseline from which to develop and explore new ways to deliver their volunteer programmes and volunteer participation.

Recent participants within the learning and development programme have been: Church of Scotland, Children’s Hearing Scotland, Police Scotland, a number of Health Boards, Heath Improvement Services, The Scottish Parliament, Scottish Drugs Forum, Children’s Hospice Scotland and Scotrail.

For more information contact Adrian Murtagh at Volunteer Scotland – [email protected] or 01786 479593



Learning and development programme: for care home volunteer coordinators

As part of Care Home Week and Volunteering Day, we are pleased to be able to share details of Volunteer Scotland's learning development programme for care home volunteer coordinators.

This programme has been designed to assist individuals and organisations with the development of volunteer participation within different sectors including the care home sector.

This learning and development environment will encourage individuals to learn new skills in attracting, motivating and celebrating volunteer engagement, while exploring a new way of community engagement through a more inclusive volunteering offer.

Through Volunteer Scotland's volunteer management courses, participants are empowered to explore the key stages of the “Volunteer and Organisational Life Cycle” while exploring different approaches to create a positive environment for volunteer participation. This process also explores the relationships between volunteers and the wider organisation.

Through a unique learning approach, individuals and organisations will explore their understanding of volunteering, its current trends and best practice.

Volunteer Scotland's leadership courses explores the role of leadership within volunteer development and encourages a “new mindset” to the delivery of volunteer participation within a changing landscape of public reform, developing communities and individuals expectations/potential.

For dates and further information contact Adrian Murtagh - [email protected] (01786) 479593

Care Home Week: Guest blog from Volunteer Scotland

Care Home week blog by George Thomson, CEO, Volunteer Scotland

Its national Care Home Week and this got me thinking about volunteering and care homes.

Every care home is a community and where there’s a community you’ll find volunteers! Individuals and groups who will be making a contribution through song, dance, bingo, befriending, and a thousand other activities that brings some joy and well being to the care home community.

The culture of a care home will determine how much volunteers are welcomed into the home, the range of activities being undertaken and critically, whether residents are also volunteer participants. Such as helping out in the garden kitchen, in any events, in social activities and projects.

Volunteering is good for you, and it makes a positive difference for others. Unfortunately we often work to a scarcity way of thinking. It’s harder to get folk to volunteer. You need to have special skills, and that there are too many regulations to make it worthwhile. Yes, there are some roles that are difficult to fill, however, if you view volunteering much more about relationship building then the world your oyster.

So for Care Home Week ask yourself the question; “where does volunteering fit into our community?”

My guess is that there will not be any sphere of care that does not involve people doing things on a voluntary basis.

A few years back we ran a focus group of 7 school leavers all of whom were unemployed and without any structure. We explored whether volunteering was of  interest. I’ll never forget the facilitator asking the question if they would be interested in radio broadcasting and there was no response. She then asked whether hospital radio was an option and the room came alight with a positive response. On probing why this was the case, these vulnerable young people related to the vulnerability of people in hospital. They cared. They empathised. They wanted to help. These young folk stand for the population at large. Motivated by making a meaningful difference, building relationships, and enjoying the human connections.

Care Home week offers a chance to open up our ways of thinking to new ways of engaging our natural willingness to care.


George Thomson
CEO, Volunteer Scotland 


Care Home Week: Guest post from Rachel Duff

On Saturday of Care Home Week, we are celebrating the brilliant contributions of volunteers in our care homes.  

We're delighted to share a blog from Rachel Duff, Operations Director at Bandrum Nursing Home, which highlights the importance of care home volunteers...


'Friends of Bandrum'  is a volunteer group at Bandrum Nursing Home, including Malcolm and Yvonne Gosling and Irene McKnight.

The friends have been a voluntary group at Bandrum for a number of years now.  All visited a loved one at Bandrum and liked it so much they decided they would like to do more and help the other residents as well as their own loved one.  They began coming in meeting residents, helping on activities and being another voice and friend for the residents.  Now they bring Rosy,their Pets as Therapy doggie friend in with them.  They also hold residents forums and carry our dining audits as well as going on trips and enjoying themselves while being friends to the residents.  They also contribute to the newsletter and help out at all the homes functions.

In 2015 the group won the Volunteer/Care Home Friend of the Year Award at the Scottish Care Awards for their amazing work at Bandrum.  They are all very humble about the great work they do at Bandrum and are hugely supported by the home.
The group like helping others, being part of the home and being a friendly voice for the residents.

Here is a clip from a recent newsletter:

Friends of Bandrum
After the busy Festive period, everyone enjoyed our Burns Afternoon held in Brightside Cafe on Wednesday 25th January. There was plenty of singing, laughter and good company.

We look forward to joining in on some of the trips organised for the summer to help out wherever we can. We can get the teas, push a wheelchair or just chat.

As you can see, the Friends of Bandrum enjoy being involved and feeling useful. Would you like to join us and help us to continue with this very worthwhile past time?  We are looking for volunteers to give a little of their time. If you think this might be you, please contact Bandrum reception.

Keep an eye on our Notice Board in reception for details of our next meeting (which you are all always welcome to attend) and for the details of all forthcoming activities.

Thank you, Friends of Bandrum

Rachel Duff

Bandrum Nursing Home