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Burleigh House, Baldock

Residents of Burleigh House looking after some house plants

Burleigh House in Baldock is a 44 bed care home specialising in dementia care.    

It is also one of the trailblazing homes in the NHS ‘Vanguard’ project which aims to keep frail, elderly residents with complex conditions out of hospital.

Mihir Shah and his family took over the home ten years ago and residents’ quality of life and staff development are at the heart of Burleigh House.

“All homes live and breathe by their staff,” said Mihir, “so supporting them in training and personal development means we can provide premium levels of service so our residents have the best quality of life.”  

Extra training is available as part of the Vanguard project’s Complex Care Premium helping staff to feel more confident in dealing with residents with complex care needs.

Burleigh House has six champions who have been trained in five key pathways – dementia, nutrition, falls and fragility, wound management and health (including end of life, continence, neurological and respiratory conditions.) 

As part of their training they learn to be mentors to spread the messages to all staff, and in turn they have a mentor, either Mihir, or care home manager Peter Meredith, who has a lifetime of experience in the caring profession.  

Care homes taking part in the pioneering project receive a ‘premium’ of £70 per patient with complex care needs, to support the cost of additional training.

Burleigh House has between 30 and 40 staff and all have some degree of training. Vanguard training builds on these skills and according to care worker Jacqueline Costantini gives them confidence and increased knowledge to support patients when they are poorly.

Jacqueline has been a senior care worker for five years and recently completed training in general health, and falls prevention, becoming the Burleigh House champion in each.

“I thought I was too old to learn anything new,” she said. “But I have learned so much and it has made me feel so much better about myself as well as helping me to care for our residents better.

“I’ve also learned to mentor others and have Peter as my mentor. I did lots and lots of training, and it was hard. We had a lot of homework which I had to do alongside the job, but it has definitely been worth it.”

A major change that has taken place already is moving the main meal of the day to the evening, with great success.

“We learned that it would improve nutrition, aid sleep and generally improve residents’ wellbeing,” said Mihir.

“Dinner has become a more social event and one resident who always insisted on eating in his room now comes into the dining room every evening.

“We witnessed positive results within a couple of weeks. It is better for catering staff as they have more time to prepare meals and we are seeing less food wastage as most residents are clearing their plates!”

While Burleigh House already had strong links with local GP surgeries and Lister Hospital the introduction of dedicated GPs for each care home and regular visits from community pharmacists to review patients’ medications is proving very worthwhile.

“Training gained through the Complex Care Premium allows us to act more effectively as a preventative source. With their new training staff can identify potential risks earlier and flag them up with doctors and prevent residents’ conditions worsening.”

Ian, 61, has been a resident at Burleigh House for less than a year. He suffers from epilepsy and has complex care needs following a fall at home.

He initially came to Burleigh House for respite care, but liked it so much he asked if he could stay.

Staff are keeping on top of his medication and are able to support him when he has a crisis, rather than always calling an ambulance to take him to hospital.

“When Ian needs to go to hospital for check-ups he goes with a member of staff who understands his condition and medication needs and can support him at the consultation,” said manager Peter Meredith. “He is very happy here and interacts well with residents and helps staff too.”

Both Peter and Mihir agree that the care homes ‘vanguard’ project fits with the home’s ethos of managing the health and wellbeing of their residents to give them a better quality of life.

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