Abbey Court surprises resident with limited band merch

Billy, a resident from Abbey Court, loves the rock band – Status Quo – and was surprised by staff with the gift of their limited edition band merchandise. Brian Murray, the Manager at Abbey Court Care Home, has contacts with someone who knows the band’s manager. Together, they arranged a surprise for Billy to receive a t-shirt, a cd and a signed book.  He was delighted and staff say that he doesn’t want to take his t-shirt off! You can see Billy’s surprise in the video below.

HRM Homecare and Prince’s Trust joint project

HRM Homecare, one of Scotland’s largest care at home specialists, has joined forces with youth charity the Prince’s Trust in Scotland to set up a new project aimed at encouraging more young people to consider a long-term career in care.

Five young adults aged between 16 and 30 were selected by the Prince’s Trust to spend four weeks training with the Kilmarnock-headquartered company at a range of its locations.

They were given free training on the skillset and qualities needed to be a carer, as well as other roles within a care company – from human resources to quality control.

The trainees – Nickelle Murray, Erin Lang, Lauren McCombe, Kayleigh Mackinlayand Nicola Scott – were recently joined by leaders from HRM Homecare to celebrate their graduation at the Prince’s Trust’s Wolfson Centre in Glasgow, and have also been offered the opportunity to take up a full-time position at the company.

HRM Homecare now hopes to run the project four times a year ­– helping more young people realise the career options that exist in the care at home sector, as well as providing a boost to HRM Homecare itself, which has more than 100 job vacancies it aims to fill after winning new contracts to provide care at home in both Falkirk and Lanarkshire.

“Over the four weeks, Nickelle, Erin, Lauren, Kayleigh and Nicola have learned very quickly what it takes to be a first-class carer, and we are absolutely delighted to offer them the opportunity to join our HRM Homecare family.

“HRM is determined to make a positive contribution in finding the next generation of highly-talented young people and we are delighted to have found an ally in the Prince’s Trust, which does excellent work with young Scots. The care at home sector is not only a huge provider of employment, it is a massive economic driver in Scotland today as our society continues to age. It also offers a wide range of valued and rewarding professions with various routes of progression open to those who are looking for a rewarding, long-term career.

“Through our joint project, we aim to show exactly how care workers can make a difference to those who need and greatly value support in their everyday lives. Not only that, they will be offered the opportunity to join a team at HRM Homecare that is dedicated to providing quality care services to those within our communities who are in need of extra care at home.”

Kate Still, country director for The Prince’s Trust Scotland, said: “We are delighted to have teamed up with HRM Homecare to provide this massive opportunity for Nickelle, Erin, Lauren, Kayleigh and Nicola.

“We have run such projects before with other care organisation and our Glasgow centre supports thousands of young people aged 13 to 30 across the Clyde Valley region and South West Scotland to live, learn and earn. But this project allows our east and west teams to work together to give even more young Scots an opportunity to forge a long-term career in the care at home sector.

“Together with HRM Homecare we can create a whole new generation of care sector workers as well as going a long way to solving the shortage of talent in the profession.”

Caption: From left, Julie Burns, HRM Homecare Training Manager, Nicola Scott, Erin Lang, Lynn Laughland, HRM Homecare Managing Director, Nickelle Murray, Lauren McCombe, Kate Still, Country Director for The Prince’s Trust Scotland, and Kayleigh Mackinlay

Whitecraigs double act show off a sweet tooth this Halloween

104-year-old Percy, alongside best friend and care nurse, Laura Hagan, have continued their annual tradition of dressing up as famous twosomes for Halloween.

The pair became very close during Percy’s time at Whitecraigs Care Home in Thornliebank and put up some fierce competition as they took on the home’s costume competition together for the fourth year running.

They have continued to wow fellow residents at the Renaissance Care home, as they illustrated the meaning of ‘You’ve Got a Friend in Me’ last year as Toy Story’s trademark Woody and Buzz-Lightyear. The year before, they dressed as Harry Potter and Hermione Granger, while they debuted their duo as Mary Poppins and Bert the Chimney-Sweep in 2018.

Every year Percy and Laura put their heads together to come up with a new idea for Halloween costumes which they can do together, managing to keep the final decision a secret from fellow residents and staff members until the big reveal at the annual Halloween party.

This year, they showed a preference to treats over tricks as they donned a matching costume from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Centenarian Percy was the enigmatic Willy Wonka himself, complete with his walking stick as a candy cane, while Laura dressed as an iconic Oompa Loompa.

Laura, Clinical Lead Nurse at Whitecraigs Care Home, said: “Each year, Percy and I keep our famous double act under wraps and aim for costumes to be bigger and better than the last. However, due to the size of our chocolate factory props, it was difficult to keep it a secret this year, but it was still a pleasure seeing the other residents smile and laugh, it’s worth all the effort.”

Percy’s daughter, Doreen, said: “I love that Whitecraigs Care Home have all these events and they all get to participate. Special thanks to Laura who has, for the last four years, dressed up with my dad Percy as a team. It’s great for us as a family to see our Dad enjoying himself and proving that at 104 you can still have fun and we see him enjoying himself.”

Percy, who went viral in 2020 for his TikTok dances, found his friendship with Laura to be the golden ticket to enjoying his retirement at Whitecraigs Care Home.

Pictured: Percy and Laura dressed up as Willy Wonka and an Oompa Loompa

Pictured: Percy with his daughter Doreen

Balhousie Pitlochry gets into the Autumn spirit

Pitlochry care home gets into the Autumn spirit with its own Tattie Bogle and a visit from yarn bombers

Pitlochry Yarn Bombers, a secret group that brings knitted joy to the Perthshire town, has left its distinctive mark on a local care home.

Residents of Balhousie Pitlochry care home woke up to some colourful Autumnal decorations this week, from knitted pumpkins and leaves to a cute hedgehog, on and around its planters and entranceway.

The care home, which prides itself on its community activity, has been a favourite stop-off as part of Pitlochry’s recent Tattie Bogle Festival this year, which saw local children spotting scarecrows around the town during the ‘tattie’ holidays.

Keen to be part of the excitement, staff at Balhousie Pitlochry created a scarecrow called Stan Balhousie which was the last stop-off on the trail. The care home, located on Burnside Road beside the Community Hospital, placed Stan in a hoist in the garden.

Judith Dingwall of Tattie Bogle Festival organisers Pitlochry and Moulin Support Group said the event was inspired by the COP26 climate conference. “Scarecrows were never made out of new things and therefore businesses and locals could reuse packaging and products to make a fun figure,” she said.

Balhousie Pitlochry Activities Coordinator Eilidh Thomson said: “Stan Balhousie has been a great hit with staff, residents, visitors, delivery folks and even people on the buses point and smile at him as they go by!”

Now that Stan has been joined by a colourful array of knitted items, the home is embracing the Autumn season. Shona Hutchcox, Home Administrator at Balhousie Pitlochry, who led the Tattie Bogle effort, said: “We love the added colour the yarn bombers have given us and it fits in so well with Stan Balhousie.”

Care home residents prioritise good sense of humour and fun-loving individuals in search for new staff

Care home residents across the country are swapping retiral for recruitment as they seek out new staff to join them in their home. Renaissance Care’s elderly occupants are ready to search high and low, looking for more caring individuals to add to the close-knit team.

The residents, within each of Renaissance Care’s 16 care homes across Scotland, are getting involved in the advertising of positions, interviewing of applicants and final selection process to expand their teams.

Judging the applicants on their skills and experience, the residents are additionally looking for the softer side of the interviewees, ensuring they would be a good fit for their home. A good sense of humour, patience and friendly faces are top of the list for the residents who form close bonds with the care staff working within the home.

The family-owned care group is currently recruiting nationally for carers, nurses, admin workers and a number of other roles within the business. With a wholly person-centred approach to care, staff are offered ongoing training and development opportunities for career progression, alongside strong support from the management team, in order to guarantee residents the best care possible.

Residents Mary Wilson (86), June Langridge (87) and Rita Bryson (84) teamed up with their home manager, hoping to find more staff to join the family at Renaissance Care’s Jesmond Care Home in Aberdeen.

Mary Wilson said: “Living in the care home, the staff are very important to us. The team at Jesmond help us in any way they can, which is vital when you struggle to fully look after yourself as you get older. Since we’ve experienced the care first-hand, I think we know what to look for in candidates.

“I’m looking for staff who are patient, understanding and good listeners. They also need to be ready for a joke too.”

Dawn Gardiner, Home Manager at Jesmond Care Home, said: “We have staff from all different backgrounds at Jesmond, and we all bring something new to the table. I believe that if you’re kind and hard-working, you’ll fit right in with us.”

At Croftbank Care Home in Uddingston, Home Manager, Denise Mote, said: “We’re so lucky to have such a caring and dedicated team here at Croftbank, and it will be lovely to welcome some new faces. I’ve recently joined the team at Renaissance Care myself, and it’s a fantastic place to work. The residents and staff have been entirely welcoming, and I already feel like part of the family.”

Louise Barnett, managing director at Renaissance Care, said: “Following what has been an incredibly difficult time for residents and staff across the country, it’s even more important that residents are part of the recruitment process, finding people that they can build personal relationships with.

“Renaissance Care is an inclusive place of work, and there really is a role for everyone in our homes. We offer extensive opportunities for our staff to develop their skillset, and would urge anyone with a caring heart and strong work ethic to apply.

“Our staff and residents within each of our homes become a tight knit family, and we are looking forward to welcoming more staff members into the mix.”  

Scottish buildings light up for homecare workers

On the evening of Wednesday 22 September 2021, significant buildings across Scotland will be lit up in yellow to acknowledge care at home staff. This initiative is in line with the ‘Celebrating Homecare’ event taking place on the same day.

‘Celebrating Homecare’ is an online event developed by the Homecare Association in conjunction with the Care Workers’ Charity. It’s all about celebrating the amazing difference homecare makes in people’s lives every day. It is also being supported by care associations across the UK and Ireland including Scottish Care, Care Forum Wales, Independent Health & Care Providers (Northern Ireland) and Home and Community Care Ireland.

The Partners for Integration team, along with Scottish Care, supported by the Scottish Government, the Scottish Parliament and the Care Inspectorate will be marking ‘Celebrating Homecare’ by lighting up buildings in Scotland to give thanks to the homecare workforce. This initiative is also supported by the Health and Social Care Partnership for Edinburgh, West Lothian, Argyll and Bute, Aberdeen, South Lanarkshire, Perth and Kinross, and West Dunbartonshire.

The buildings will include:

  • St Andrews House, Edinburgh
  • Victoria Quay, Edinburgh
  • Civic Centre, West Lothian
  • Castle House, Dunoon
  • McCaigs Tower, Oban
  • Marischal College, Aberdeen
  • Hamilton Townhouse, Hamilton
  • Perth Bridge, Perth
  • St Paul’s Square, Perth
  • Council Offices in Dumbarton

The buildings will be lit up in the colour yellow, which was chosen to symbolise the flame of a candle. This relates to another initiative by Scottish Care – ‘Candle for Care’, whereby candles are lit every Tuesday at 7:00 pm to express gratitude to all those who provide care and support during the COVID-19 crisis and in memory of all those who have died from COVID-19.

To be able to stay in the place you call home and to remain around family, friends and community is a desire many of us have, maybe most especially when we are ill or requiring support and care. It is this independent living which thousands of homecare staff enable people to achieve every day across the UK.

Throughout the pandemic, care at home staff has continued to support some of our most vulnerable people in their own homes, ensuring their health and safety whilst combatting the challenges of COVID-19. They provide support not only to individuals but their families too. Recent months have also seen unprecedented demand in home-based care organisations, despite this, the homecare workforce has rallied together and gone above and beyond their roles to deliver quality care.

The homecare sector shows us caring, resilience and compassion at its best. Yet this workforce is often undervalued and not recognised. This workforce deserves recognition for their dedication and professionalism every day of the week, regardless of weather, risk or fear.

A relative of a service user said:

“During the Pandemic, it has been a lifeline for my mother to have carers support her at home. We live around 90 minutes away and supporting mum daily would be challenging, particularly as my husband is going through cancer treatment. On the occasions when we have met with carers, usually when delivering meals for mum, we’ve both been extremely impressed by their care and professionalism.

My mother very much enjoys the company of the carers and the support they provide. It gives her a focus and also a ‘raison d’etre.’ It’s encouraging to hear that they are supporting mum leaving her flat for short walks. Our thanks to all the carers.”

Jim Carle, Joint National Lead for Partners for Integration, Scottish Care, commented:

“This ‘light up’ is an acknowledgement of the care at home workforces’ uphill battle to continue to provide an incredible service in a year like no other, as they have faced and met the challenges of Covid-19.  In an extended period of unprecedented demand, they have gone above and beyond. To acknowledge the magnificent contribution they make to the vulnerable individuals they care for on a daily basis, which is truly worthy of celebration. Our heartfelt thanks for their dedication and care.” 

Scottish tunes fill the walls of Midlothian care home

A local Edinburgh bagpiper has been moving care home residents to tears with nostalgic melodies.

The musical visit from piper, Matt McKelvie, was organised by dedicated care home staff at Mansfield Care’s Pine Villa in Loanhead after putting up a notice on social media.

Playing traditional Scottish melodies such as ‘Scotland the Brave’ and ‘Highland Cathedral’, the young Edinburgh piper is now returning for his second gig.

Matt McKelvie said: “I saw that Pine Villa was looking for a musician on social media and thought playing the bagpipes for care home residents sounded great.

“As things are getting back to normal and people start to socialise more, I think events like these are so important, as they brighten up residents’ days and they get to enjoy something a bit different from their usual routine.

“It was a lovely event, everyone really enjoyed themselves! Residents were dancing away and laughing, it was great.  

“One of the residents used to be a minister for the Church of Scotland, so he asked me to play ‘Amazing Grace’ for him. It was truly heart-warming seeing his face light up when he heard the song.”

At 8 years old, Matt started private lessons at the Army School of Bagpipe Music and Highland Drumming at Redford Barracks.

His early passion for music was ignited by his grandfather who used to be a drum major for ‘The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders’ and has been a leading role model and inspiration.

The young bagpiper added: “The best part for me was the way I made the residents feel, seeing them enjoy my playing truly makes me happy.

“I mainly have been playing at weddings and funerals, but after visiting Pine Villa, I am hoping that will change soon and I can play at a broader variety of events and celebrations.”

Originally a hobby Matt is seeking to play full-time after he completes his higher education at Glasgow National Piping Centre.

Denise Williams, manager at Pine Villa, said: “Our residents had an amazing time listening to Matt and it was a delight to see them enjoying themselves and are looking forward to having him play again.”

Operating 11 care homes across Edinburgh Borders and west of Scotland, Mansfield care is designed to provide bespoke care to an exceptional standard with state-of-the-art facilities.

Specialising in unique small, friendly residential / nursing care homes, staff work under an ethos that is inspired by the kind of care we would wish for ourselves in later life – supportive, friendly, bright, positive, empathetic, respectful and homely.

The highly trained staff ensure a commitment and continuity of care to each resident with a dedicated home manager and wellbeing coordinator to plan activities according to resident’s wishes.

Blackwood assembles team of maintenance heroes

A Scottish housing and care provider has launched a one of a kind maintenance program to blitz through housing repairs and a welcome return to meeting with customers in their neighbourhoods.

Blackwood Housing and Care has introduced ‘Hit Squad’ teams where experts from different disciplines will set out on a tour of 34 developments across Scotland to identify and complete repairs.

The idea emerged during lockdown to easily allow customers to voice their concerns and tackle overdue maintenance that was on hold due to restrictions when works were not possible.

After contacting customers through lockdown with welfare calls, staff are keen to get back out to developments and engage with people and ask what is important to them and what would have a positive impact in their environment.

Alex Burns, Asset Officer for Blackwood said: “We’re going to be taking on the ‘Tour de Blackwood’ which will include visiting our developments across the country and working through wide range of repairs.

“Improvements will include cleaning, landscaping, gardening, renewing lobby carpets and generally helping to brighten up the development and ensure they are up to our high standards.

“Starting from the simpler jobs such as a painting the walls to larger scale projects, we’ll look to document and plan all repairs resulting in nothing being missed.

“It’s a great opportunity not only to prevent any potential problems but also gives us a chance to speak directly with customers and hear first-hand what they would like.

“We’re really happy that we have very active customer participation and I find the work truly rewarding as it’s an opportunity to show we are a team working toward the same goal of providing top quality housing and care.”

Alex and the team were on board as soon as the idea emerged of creating Hit Squads, with a drive to implement a consistent maintenance plan across all Blackwood homes and engage with customers directly.

Alex added: “The Hit Squad scheme undertakes additional inspections so that we can maintain all properties and identify innovations that may be appropriate.

“Each team is made up of members from different disciplines such as innovations, housing and marketing – it’s great to have such a diverse group on board.”

Blackwood has a longstanding history of creating quality, innovative, and accessible homes to create homes that people of all ages and mobility levels can enjoy.

The charity aims to help people live their life to the full, by providing services which support them to live independently.

As Blackwood works in 29 of Scotland’s 32 local authorities, it is more widely dispersed than most other care or housing providers and has used its investment in innovation in design and technology, combined with great staff teams, to offer more choice and control to customers across Scotland.

Renaissance Care Olympics are a winner at Forres Care Home

Meadowlark Care Home residents have put Forres on the map as the home can now boast an array of Olympic athletes.

Following weeks of gentle training, residents from care homes across the country teamed up to compete in the first ever Renaissance Care Olympics in a bid to better their physical and mental wellness. The 15 care homes battled for victory in five categories; Pitch n Putt, 400m walking, seated volleyball, boxing and beanbag throwing, with resounding success for one Forres care home.

Staff at Renaissance Care’s Meadowlark went the extra distance for their Olympians, arranging for music, dancing and Asian cuisine at both opening and closing ceremonies, with celebrations rivalling those in Tokyo. The activities were found to be so popular, that the care home plan to continue their walking, boxing and Pitch n Putt challenges long after the competition ends.

Despite the age range of the Meadowlark Olympic team spanning from 70 to 98, the contest allowed for many firsts within the home. Many of the female athletes had never tried boxing before, but it has since become one of the most popular activities within the home. For others, it was an opportunity to reconnect with hobbies from their past, as with one resident who fondly reflected on her days spent with a walking group as she grafted to rack up the most 400m walking stints throughout July.

With the majority of residents joining in the fun and games, staff reported an extraordinary difference in the fitness and stamina of residents. Amongst those who benefitted was Ian Macdonald, a keen walker with improved mobility following the challenge.

Derra Kew, Activities Co-ordinator at Renaissance Care’s Meadowlark Care Home, said: “The difference in our residents has been phenomenal. After a year where energy levels have been low, the Renaissance Care Olympics has given Meadowlark the boost that we all needed.

“Throughout lockdown, we’ve had to be creative when planning activities, and since we always encourage gentle exercise, this seemed like the perfect idea. I’m very proud of everyone’s efforts – bring on Paris 2024!”

Amongst Meadowlark’s participants in the Renaissance Care Olympics was 74-year-old Ian MacDonald. Born in Tomatin, near Inverness, Ian is the oldest of five, and is also a twin. His father worked on the railways and farmed his whole life, while his mother had her hands full looking after four sons and one daughter at home.

Growing up, Ian left school aged 16 to work in a local distillery as a malt man, before joining the army to later become a tank operator. It was in this period of his life which he met his wife Elizabeth, a care assistant. Ian said of his lifelong love: “I met her at a dance and we’ve been dancing ever since”.

Aside from dancing, Ian has recently been trying a whole host of new activities at Meadowlark Care Home through the Renaissance Care Olympic Games.

He said: “I loved cycling and hunting as a young man, so the Olympics were very good for helping me rediscover my passion for sport. I really liked the ‘putting’ and have enjoyed keeping up with my walking too. I used to walk to the lounge and back, but now I’m able to walk round the garden, and even further afield.”

“In my younger years, I had many different jobs, and have been lucky to travel a fair bit too. I was stationed in West Germany for a number of years, where my daughters Sarah and Wendy were born. I have many fond memories of my time there, but then we moved back home to Cawdor where I returned to my farming roots. I then went on to work in a distillery, where I worked with my twin brother Andrew, before becoming a lorry driver for McArthur Haulage.

“I’d been working as a lorry driver for about six years, when I was in a serious accident and hit my head badly. A passing lorry driver saved my life, if he hadn’t called the ambulance I wouldn’t be here today. I spent a whole year in hospital recovering.

“I’ve now lived at Meadowlark since 2018, and the Olympics has been the biggest hit with residents yet, and it has improved my health and fitness tenfold. I even joke with the staff that I’m training to run away from them, due to my increased mobility and confidence. That’s worth more than a gold medal if you ask me!”

Older people Go4Gold in Perth and Kinross

Older people in Perth and Kinross have shown their Olympic spirit by taking part in a care home challenge event to highlight the importance of physical activity.

Hollywood actor Brian Cox and Deputy First Minister John Swinney are among those who sent their good wishes to residents from care homes and day centres across the region taking part in the ninth annual Go4Gold event in Perth and Kinross.

Around 400 residents from 30 care settings have been trying their hand at various games and challenges throughout the past week.

The event has previously taken place at Bells Sports Centre in Perth but this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, each care setting have run their own in-house Go4Gold event. This has meant that a larger number of residents could participate and experience the fun and excitement of Go4Gold.

The participants took part in various physical challenges including a golf putting challenges, skittles picking up objects of nature and a goal scoring target.

Each care setting also enjoyed a video introduction to their events welcoming them and getting them into the spirit with a warm up activity and an Olympic coverage style studio chat.

In the weeks before the event, staff and residents from each care home also created posters reflecting this year’s Go4Gold theme of ‘Walking with Nature’.

An award ceremony was held virtually on Tuesday, 31 August where all the participants were presented with certificates and medals for the teams. Winning teams also received a trophy. The virtual ceremony also included filmed messages from actor Brian Cox and Deputy First Minister John Swinney.

Go4Gold was organised by the Perth & Kinross Care Home Activity Network (CHAN), in partnership with Perth and Kinross Health and Social Care Partnership, Scottish Care, Live Active Leisure, Paths for All, the third sector and local care homes.

The event aims to increase physical activity levels for all care home residents in a fun and meaningful way.

Perth and Kinross Health and Social Care Partnership Falls Service Manager Carolyn Wilson said, “The past 18 months have been particularly challenging for all of our care homes. The usual annual care home games challenge Go4Gold held at Bells Sports Centre was impossible but we wanted to still recreate Go4Gold, particularly with the 2020 Olympics running this summer.

“It’s fantastic to see so many homes participating and the residents really entering into the competitive spirit with enthusiasm and excitement. Go4Gold demonstrates that everyone can exercise in some way and offers a lasting legacy promoting physical activity. It goes to prove that even the frailest in our society can come together, participate in physical activity and above all have fun.”

Gordon Paterson, Chief Officer of the Perth and Kinross Health and Social Care Partnership, said, “Given the difficulties and challenges our care homes have had to overcome, delivering the competition this year was really important to us.

“It’s been fantastic to see everything they have been getting up to and the energy with which they have approached the competition. While it has been a challenge to bring it all together in a safe and appropriate manner, the enthusiastic and positive response we have seen really goes to show that with the right support in place, we can empower people of any age to stay healthy, active and involved in maintaining their quality of life.”

“It’s great that so many of our Care Homes and Residents are taking part this year, especially given the prolonged period of uncertainty and unprecedented challenges that out Homes have faced across the last 16 months due to COVID-19. Care home staff have been fantastic in stepping up an enabling so many people to take part in the activities and it really is a testament to their compassion and dedication that we have been able to involve nearly 400 residents from all across Perth and Kinross in this year’s competition.”