Birchwood Grange – Our Home of the Quarter
Birchwood Grange is a large 150-bedroom home in Harrow that has been transformed in the four years since it transferred to Avery Healthcare and Home Manager Mark Bird was appointed. Mark had previously worked for the NHS in emergency care and was the UK’s first male matron, so came well equipped to manage a clinical team and work in a challenging situation.
Today, it’s clear as you walk into Birchwood Grange, with its colourful decorations and homely atmosphere, that it is no ordinary care home. Mark has developed diversity, creativity and a strong community so well that Carehome.co.uk ranks the home within the Top 20 in London – no mean feat when there are over 1,400 homes in the region!
In February 2017 the home achieved Brent borough’s first Outstanding in CQC’s Care category and is heralded as ‘best practice’ by the Council. Mark has also been shortlisted as a finalist in the Great British Care Awards 2019 after winning Home Care Registered Manager for the London region in 2018.
There are many reasons for the stunning success at Birchwood Grange, more than we have space for, so Avery Chief Operating Officer Sharon Winfield has highlighted three aspects that make it stand out.
In September, Mark was elected as Chair for the Enhanced Health in Care Homes Steering Group Forum, representing 66 homes in the Brent area. Mark holds monthly meetings with the homes, the Commission and a panel of clinical experts to review specific concerns, challenges and learn best practice insights. He meets Local Authority and Clinical Commissioning Officers quarterly, outlining his findings and proposing plans for progress.
Birchwood has amazing community links and 160 registered volunteers. Helen Abbott, Well-being Co-ordinator explains: “We have active projects with many local organisations that encourage residents to make friends both inside and outside the home.” Helen is a Board member of the Community Committee of Preston Manor School and coordinates work experience in the home for up to 30 young people per week. The children are keen to pursue careers in the health sector and offer help with singing, mobility, playing cards and games with the residents.
For the last three years, CEWA, a charity run by young Asian professionals, visit the home with their family members. Young doctors, dentists and lawyers come along to support with activities and socialise, with strong bonds formed between the families and residents.
The Brent Council branch of NCS Kids also works in partnership with Birchwood Grange and sends groups of children for a three-day “confidence boost”. For two days the children join supervised activities and ‘give back’ on the third day by creating an event of their own.
ULC & Brent Loneliness and Technology
2018 saw Birchwood Grange supporting a new seven-week pilot project for Brent Council, seeking to establish whether technology can support a solution to loneliness. They provided electronic tablets and tutoring to residents who started experimenting with Skype calls to distant relatives, enjoying online art and using reading and gaming applications.
A major success factor for the home is Mark’s clear philosophy of embracing diversity and encouraging inclusion. Mark and Helen recently attended Pride in Care London 2018, regarding the health and well-being of older LGBT+ people. Helen subsequently attended an LGBT training programme on how to provide support and now offers guidance to other staff.
The home also has a Dementia Caravan in its garden! Upcycled by the maintenance team and staff in under three weeks, the caravan offers a place for residents to relax, with plenty of memorabilia to bring back holiday memories and a relaxing blue theme reminiscent of the seaside.
Birchwood Grange continues to plan more for their residents to enjoy; at the heart of this home are the genuine relationships between residents, staff, supporters and its local community. A truly unique, outstanding care home.
Article by Helen Bates, Marketing Executive, for Welcome Home Issue 8.