Care home is where the heart is

Louisa Forbes

About Louisa

Hi, I’m Louisa Forbes. I started the ‘care home is where the heart is’ blog because I want people to know about the really exciting things taking place right now with care homes in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to improve the health of residents.

My grandmother told me when I was seven years old that I would make a lovely nurse and from that moment I planned on making that my career choice! Following this dream made choosing A-levels and degree subjects much easier and I qualified in 2006!

Fast forward 13 years and I’ve worked in the accident and emergency department in Hampshire and medical admission wards in Devon. I relocated to Cornwall in 2010 and that move took me down a different professional pathway.

I became a surveillance specialist nurse – no, that’s not a role with MI5 or a character for the next Bond movie (although that sounds fun too) - at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust, Treliske. I then landed a job as the Bug and Drug Project’s lead nurse educator - a countywide focus on tackling antimicrobial resistance. It was really wonderful to be part of such a remarkable project and I got lost more times than you imagine trying to find my way to care homes and community centres across Cornwall to deliver education. I also never thought I would end up seeing my work to reduce antibiotic use published in an academic journal- but I did!

Drug and bugs certainly cleaned up but I felt care home staff were doing such incredibly hard and often undervalued jobs that they would benefit from more education on more subjects. So when I was offered the opportunity to go big thanks to NHS England’s Enhanced Health in Care Home programme, I snapped at the chance.

So for the next year I’ll be employed with NHS Kernow’s quality team as their lead nurse for the Enhanced Health in Care Home programme (EHCH) which could make a difference to hundreds of people living in care homes in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. I'll be using this blog to update you on what I'm up to each month, so please read on.

January 2019 

I am delighted and extremely excited that Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is among one of the first areas in the country to be building on the work of the six vanguard areas in England that led the way in a new model of care known as the Enhanced Health in Care Home programme (EHCH).

What is the programme about?

Put simply, it’s about offering proactive care that puts the needs of the care home residents at the heart of everything to enhance their health.

No one wants to see people going to hospital unless they really need to, or to see them having lengthy stays that could be avoided – elsewhere this programme has already helped to reduce such things.

It’s also about valuing care staff as a vital part of our health and social system and giving them more confidence so that they know the signs to look out for when it comes to the health needs of their residents. Health will mean different things to different residents; for some their priority might be having a newspaper every day, and for others their care needs will be very acute and extremely complex. Care home staff are often managing residents who years ago would have been in an acute hospital and we need to respect, reward and enhance those skills.

The Cornish way

The experiences from the six vanguard areas has helped provide a framework for the programme - delve in deeper to find out what it’s about. For me, for the programme to be a success, it must belong to the residents, relatives and staff, it must fit the bill for the needs of our care homes and residents living in Cornwall and celebrate the good stuff that is already taking place in care homes - I’m calling it the Cornish way.

Who can take part?

Eventually my goal is to reach every single care home in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly but I will start with eight in 2019 stretching from the Lizard to Liskeard, and already have five care homes all brimming with enthusiasm. 

How does it work?

This programme will only work if we work together. It’s about collaboration across health and care (from GPs to nutritionists and hospital staff to council workers) and the space and time to nurture those professional relationships. The care homes on the scheme will look at what they currently offer and then make a plan for what can be done to make it even better and I’ll provide them with support when it’s needed. I’m also launching a first-of-its-kind network for Cornwall to tackle issues together such as ‘the night shift’ – when carers and care homes can feel the most isolated – and share the good, the exhausting, and the worrying situations that day to day life in care homes presents.

I’m not on the programme, what about my care home?

The opportunities don’t stop with the care homes involved in the programme. I’m also taking to the road in March with the EHCH Education Roadshow delivering sessions across the county – it’s free to all care home staff. Our first topic will be on How to Recognise the Deteriorating Patient and how to Act’ and I’m thrilled to welcome guest speakers Dr Jamie Dawe, who is a GP and out of hours guru, community matron Janet Laskey, and Jo Smith (End of Life), to talk about sepsis, national early warning score two, advanced care planning and treatment escalation plans.

From February I will offer a bitesize education sessions on each of the care elements described within the EHCH framework. I hope this will be useful but for any more information give me a shout. 

Cheers and see you next month for more care home is where the heart is – together we can make a difference.