A visit to Herons Park nursing home & dementia unit, located in Spennells Wood, Kidderminster has enabled students to gain a greater insight into the role of the care setting.

Sixth form students from King Charles School spent half a day observing the role of care staff within the care environment, in order to expand their knowledge for their health and social care course. Within the short period of time they spent at the nursing home, the students interacted with the residents, asking them questions and sharing stories. This nursing home believes strongly in treating each person as an individual and emphasises that there should be no unnecessary rules and regulations. This staff have created an environment where dignity, peace and comfort take priority, so residents are able to remain as independent as possible. It is surrounded by formal gardens, patio areas, and resident tended raised garden beds for wheelchair clients, showing their contribution to anti-discriminatory practice. 

Figure 1. (Above) The entrance to the nursing home.

In this article, we will hear from some of the students and how they thought Visiting Herons park nursing home impacted their education. “It was extremely useful to me because it enabled me to put Health and Social content into a realistic situation, it really helped me to identify how sectors use policies and procedures day to day and the importance they have in regards to both staff and residents.” (Meg B).

Another student, Lucy, tells us about what she thought of the visit. “When I visited the care home, I had an insight into what care is provided, how care is provided and what policies and procedures that care professionals set in place and follow. This included, learning how care professionals ensured all policies and procedures were being followed within the care home, and ensuring all service user’s needs were met. I had to take a person-centred approach, when talking to all service users, to focus on the individual's personal needs, wants, desires and goals so that they become central to the care and nursing process, but also to make them feel comfortable in the health care setting.”

Grace’s opinion of her visit was also a positive one. She stated that during her visit to Herons Park Nursing home, she had the chance to “talk to the care manager and ask her a few questions. Throughout the conversation, we were familiar with terms such as the external agency of the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which was beneficial as it allowed us to know from the care manager’s point of view what they do whilst inspecting. She explained how the agencies main focuses were the safety, dignity, independence, privacy and communication of service users within the home, and that all staff were aware that these five principles are in place and should be upheld.”

Another set of positive feedback regarding the skills she has learnt following the visit, comes from another health and social care student – Mia. “Within care homes, carers have many responsibilities in which they must ensure that they meet. I have learnt how vitally important it is for these responsibilities to be met, not just for the safety of the service users but also for the service users family. While at the care home, I also found out how important it is to make sure the care provided is individualistic. This is because the service users all have different needs meaning they would all have to be treated with care best suited to them. The visit to the care home also allowed me to build my confidence through speaking to people who I don’t usually interact with. This has benefited me, as it has given me an insight into what nursing would be like, which is my future carer option.”

It is important that students are given the opportunity to view and observe unfamiliar environments in order to ensure their education and skillset is adaptable and well rounded. This has been commented on by Tahsina. “When visiting the nursing home I have learnt that their staff provide care to the highest standard by making sure that audits are in place. Audits are a way to find if the staff provide the best care for the service users and that they are in line with the policies and procedures. It then lets the managers and the service users know where their service is doing well and if needs to be improved. In addition, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) would inspect the care home and write up a report with advice on how to improve. The manager would also make sure that the staff undergo training and before hiring them they would have a meeting with their relatives to make sure that they have the qualities of a nurse and that they are suitable for the job. In the process of hiring the right service providers, they would make sure that go through the DBS check which proves that they are suitable to work with vulnerable adults. The manager would make sure that they have a Care Certificate and that they are registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). I now have a greater understanding on what are the procedures needed to recruit the right staff for care homes and how they make sure that they provide the best care for the service users.”

Another one of the students, Phoenix says “Within the care home it is essential that care assistants, managers and other staff members work together in order to provide the best possible support to service users. Therefore, it is ensured that all staff act as a multi-disciplinary team. Multidisciplinary teams convey many benefits to both the patients and the health professionals working on the team. These include improved health outcomes and enhanced satisfaction for clients, and the more efficient use of resources and enhanced job satisfaction for team members.”

Overall from the feedback received, it is clear that the students enjoyed their time during this visit and clearly have taken a lot of positive, useful information away from it.

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