As part of Evolve Care Group, the culture at our Cwmbran Care Home, Thistle Court can be identified in our commitment to creating a continuation of home rather than an institution. We look at practices that create a divide and turn them into something that will connect.
However, parts of culture can sometimes be lost when a community finds itself in a crisis and the immediate priorities need to be the focus. Amidst the chaos that these crises usually throw an environment into, usual ways of life are put on hold.
Covid presented such a crisis. It upended our community and the comfortable atmosphere needed for the components of culture to be nurtured and sustained. That is why the first module of Evolve’s Care Academy Build Back Better training revolves around ‘Culture.’ To refocus a united cultural vision for our home.
I spoke with our Operations Manager, Mark Reed, who further explained why this is such an important part of the course. Mark, who has worked within the adult social care sector for over 20 years, wonderfully articulates how a care home begins with culture: “Culture within our care homes is the sum of all the personalities, identities, values, and actions of the people that make up that community. By this definition, it will constantly change over time as the people themselves change.”
The EvolveBBB training aims to collect those distinct segments of what makes a person who they are and bring those individuals into a shared space where commonalities and respect for each other are found. It teaches us that cultural differences are what makes us diverse and bring a collective strength that can benefit everyone living here. Mark continues, “Defining this culture for everyone to understand is vital, as it provides an unsaid and universally understood moral image that sits within a frame hung on a wall in the minds of everyone to refer to. If the culture is not defined, then people have no sense of attachment to what is acceptable, or when things should be challenged, and over time, anything and everything is acceptable no matter what the impact.”
Rather than taking a textbook approach, the day encouraged self-reflection and positive shifts in perspective. One of our team members from Heanton Nursing Home in Devon, Kayleigh Gibbons, reached out with, “Thank you for a lovely day of learning. I have come away with some new perspectives on how to deal with things differently and also learnt a little about my own emotional control.”
I asked Mark how Evolve intends to uphold the culture and vision that was set out on the training days, he explained, “We want people to treat this place as a home. To do this we need to break down barriers between team members and family members, so we started by stripping uniforms. This began the path of creating a space where people come to work and feel like they’re walking through the doors to a second home. Although obviously, a certain level of professionalism and procedures must be in place, we recognise the benefits of taking away stricter rules that strip away identity, dampens an atmosphere, and creates a feeling of an institution.”
The right atmosphere is crucial in breaking ground within the adult social care sector. By abolishing the institution and moving into an environment that generates comfort, we create a space that encourages a culture of inclusivity, mutual respect and being at ease, as you should feel at home.
Mark leaves us with these powerful words: “We all know the unwritten and unsaid expectations of entering libraries, places of worship, soft play areas, music concerts, sports events, or nightclubs, and this allows people to enter them with more emotional security, mutual respect and to feel happier within them. As we move forward with Evolve’s Care Academy sessions on identity, inclusion, occupation and comfort, the framed moral image of culture sits on the centre of the wall, with everything else hung around it.”