By Beth Britton, D4Dementia
Think of care home staff and you probably instantly conjure up images of nurses and care assistants. Their roles are well documented and constantly assessed, but what about the catering and housekeeping staff whose contribution, whilst often taken for granted, is absolutely vital to care home life?
From the perspective of a daughter whose dad lived with dementia in three different care homes during the last nine years of his life, I can completely attest to the huge contribution that these unsung heroes made to my dad’s life. Their work also directly impacted upon us as a family, since dad’s care homes became our home from home given the numerous hours we shared both with dad and the staff supporting him.
When my dad could no longer hold a conversation, was completely immobile and living with a swallowing problem, his mealtimes remained one of the highlights of his day. So many factors went into the quality of the catering he received, from the safe storage and production to the delivery of the food, the meal experience and of course ultimately the taste. We often ate with dad, and the chef was seen in the dining room and helping to enhance the delivery and enjoyment of the food provided during every shift.
To this end, it’s clear to see that a catering staff can be as intrinsic a part of a care home as the care workers and nurses, and the same is true of housekeeping staff. My dad would often sit in his room during the day, listening to music and relaxing in his comfy chair. His room was cleaned every morning, which meant that housekeeping staff met and chatted with dad on a daily basis. Not only was the level of cleanliness in dad’s room key to helping keep his environment healthy and homely, the interaction with the housekeeping staff was an enjoyable part of his day.
From the perspective of families, knowing that a care home is staffed in these two crucial areas by a workforce that goes above and beyond the ‘routine’ provides both welcome reassurance and also a pride in the people working in your loved one’s care home. For me this is where the CAP Awards come into their own, with MD of the CAP Awards, Ian Jackson very much aligned with my philosophy:
“Catering and housekeeping is hard work, and often under the radar. To create a high quality, welcoming and homely experience it’s vital to celebrate these essential staff. Good care starts with clean facilities and delicious food.”
From the viewpoint of care providers, investing time and money into this independent measure of quality, safe best practices and service also demonstrates a much-needed understanding that providing good care is about everything that happens in a care home, not just the medical and personal care that is provided.
Unsung heroes are so often overlooked in care homes, but achieving a CAP Award not only shows the dedication of catering and housekeeping staff, it also motivates staff to keep standards high and encourages continual development, the importance of which cannot be overestimated for residents, families, staff and providers.