Every Christmas day for many years, my family and I have called into College Fields on Christmas day to meet the residents, their families and members of staff. This year was no different but there were differences. Perhaps the Panorama programme about the terrible neglect and abuse at Winterbourne View made me more than normally alert to the standard of care at College Fields. Perhaps the fact that I have spent so many hours with Welsh Government in the last year representing independent providers and championing the rights of people who use the services of those providers, made me more than usually aware. No matter what the reason I cast a critical eye over the care of the people we look after.
What I found was uplifting. Every resident who was well enough and wanted to join in the Christmas dinner together had done so. They were all beautifully prepared for their celebration, immaculately clean and dressed in their finery. Their lunches, they assured me, were delicious and the support from the support workforce excellent. Many family members had turned up and shared in the occasion, some enjoyed the lunch too, others taking pleasure in helping their loved ones to enjoy their lunches. Perhaps their glass of sherry or can of beer had got the luncheons off to a fine start.
After having had a few words with every resident and their families in the dining room, I went around each room in the house to meet the residents who could not or chose not to go to the party. As I was invited into each room, I found that every resident was immaculate. Without exception they were, as usual, spotless, hair clean and well presented and dressed in their ‘Sunday best’ as it was known in my childhood in the 40’s and 50’s. It is easy to find fault but I heard nothing but praise for the quality of their lunch and the quality of the care they were being given. Many residents were no longer able to feed themselves and they were being helped by thoughtful staff who took the time to chat and interact with every resident I saw. It is so hard to see people who have been so active and involved in their earlier lives to be frustrated when they cannot do what they used to be able to do without a moments thought. When they are being cared for as well as this it did make me appreciate even more the patience and understanding of these wonderful members of staff.
In one resident’s room I met six members of one family who had come to visit their loved one. They were sitting there with no resident present. They were all drinking their teas or coffees they had made themselves and having a lovely chat. Their loved one was in the lounge enjoying their lunch and rather than make their loved one feel rushed to leave or rush their food whilst they stood by or sat and watched they had considerately decided to retire to the room and made use of the facilities to make themselves at home as all residents families and friends are encouraged to do and make their own drinks. It was so nice to see them feeling at home too.
I left comforted in the knowledge that our team were doing an excellent job of caring for those we look after. My thanks go to all members of staff who give of themselves for the benefit of others not only at Christmas but all year round.
Mike Kemp, Director 27 December 2012
Christmas day 2012 – a personal view of Mike Kemp
The lounge became the dining room on Christmas day and the sun shone in some eyes so the curtains were closed and the atmosphere was heightened.