There’s never a quiet time in any of our team’s diaries, but we were very lucky recently to catch up with Kim Wells, Interim Extra Care Manager.
Kim gave us a wonderful insight into the world of Extra Care and what it’s all about and why it’s so important. This is what she said…
“If you’re someone aged 55+, although exceptions to this can be made if you are a younger person with specific or special circumstances, who needs some extra support to be able to live an independent and empowered life, then that’s where we come in.
“We provide an independent setting with 24-hour support. Our customers have their own flats, can make decisions on how they want to live their lives and can come and go as they please. They choose and buy their own food, however if needed or want us to help them with something, we’re here.
“Our model is very much based on person-centred care. We’re all about the individual and what their needs are to remain well, to feel comfortable and secure, and to be able to live their best life in the comfort of their own homes.
“We are similar to our colleagues in home care, in that we have a range of customers with mixed care needs. Some need us just to be around in case they have an emergency like a fall and others need us to help with a full range of different things including administering medication, personal care and meal/fluid preparation.
“We can deliver as much or as little care as the individual needs. They are in control. We also provide end-of-life support, so someone can remain in a settled environment, somewhere they call home with all their possessions around them.
“Often people come to us and just need 15 minutes of assistance a day, however as their mobility potentially decreases, then they need our support for an increased amount of time and more frequently throughout the day.
“Nothing is set in stone here. We want our customers to have the power to choose for themselves what they do and when. They have freedom and control. Our customers are at the heart of what we do, and we want them to feel fulfilled and happy.
“If people feel empowered, then they are more motivated and engaged, so we say to them ‘what do you want us to do’. They make their own decisions; we don’t take that away from them. It’s all about independence.
“One of the most fascinating parts of my job and that of my team, is learning about the people we support. I have one gentleman who chooses to get up at 4am, as he spent his working life as a postman, and within Extra Care this is something we can support him with. So, we’re flexible to his needs and the night staff help him with that.
“Equally, he goes to bed a lot earlier than everyone else. That’s been his routine all his working life and he feels comfortable continuing with that, and we’re happy to assist him. That’s the way he has lived his live for many years and wants to continue.
“We also support a couple of ladies who were former nurses who don’t need or want us to assist them with their medication, they are happier doing it themselves as it is something they are very knowledgeable about and administered medication to their patients for years, so why should they not have support to do their own now. It’s part of their independence and we back this. We have care plans for everyone who needs our support, and these are all about finding out what is best for the individual.
“There’s a balance and we respect everyone’s wishes. It gives me great pride and a huge sense of achievement when I know I have made a difference to someone’s life. This is especially important when we get towards the end of a life for one of our customers, and we’ve been able to look after someone at home with dignity and follow their wishes as so many people are petrified of going into hospital and we’re here to remove that worry if that is what they want to do.
“Being able to care for others and having a passion for care are vital to a role with us. People have it in them. When I look at my team and potential new members, who haven’t made it through our probation stage – even if they came from another care environment – I know there is something very specific about those that are right for this area of care. You can’t learn this. It’s something in you.
“You have to be flexible, open minded and sensitive to the needs of others. I am a bubbly person who at times can be quite loud and animated but not everyone reacts well to that. You need to have that emotional intelligence to understand how to behave in different scenarios with different customers. You can’t just always be yourself.
“Very often the best carers have lived experience. In my case my older brother is in care and has learning difficulties and mental health challenges. It’s because of my older brother that actually my mother, younger brother and myself all worked in the care industry. His care needs made us very tuned into what others require and how to support and help them. There’s positivity to be taken away from lived experience.
“Our motto here is one I think everyone should live by everyday whatever they do. We say: ‘well if that was my mum, dad, older brother, niece, nephew etc, how would I feel if…’
“Everyone is someone’s loved one and everyone knows someone in their family who may have, for example, autism, mental ill-health, dementia or mobility issues.
“When I left school, I worked in retail for two years until I could work in care. Originally, I thought I wanted to be a social worker but quickly realised I needed to deal with people face-to-face on a daily basis and to fight for their right to lead independent fulfilled lives with support based around them and their choices.
“Care is a very rewarding occupation that is all about the people. That’s what a good life is all about for us all too, people – interacting with each other in a positive, kind and patient way and being independent and fulfilled. What more do we need?”
We’ve Extra Care apartments in the New Forest at Winifred House in Totton, Barfields Court in Lymington and Gore Grange in New Milton. They are close to town centres with easy access to public transport.
To find out how you can join Kim’s team in Extra Care, please click here.