Care Home Open Day 2019 at Altogether Care

Altogether Care will be taking part in National Care Home Open Day on 28th June.

The nationwide open day event is a chance to celebrate all the different people, cultures and relationships in local areas, and show the community that care homes are friendly, happy and exciting places to be.

All of our care homes – Sherborne House in Yeovil, Steepleton Manor near Dorchester, and Weymouth Care Home will open their doors on Friday 28th June with an array of activities, information and events available.

See below the itineraries for each of our care homes.

Weymouth Care Home

  • Live music will start at 12pm, followed by high tea in the garden from 1pm.
  • We will also have an Art Gallery which will showcase all of our residents work.
  • There will be garden games for all ages, from hook a duck to ring toss.
  • Refreshments will be available, we will have fresh candy floss and a small sweet selection.
  • Find out more here.

Sherborne House

  • Coffee morning & cake tasting with the Yeovil Ukulele ladies in attendance will start at 11am.
  • Elvis will be in the building from 2pm to 3pm! Which will raise the heart beat and the spirits and have staff dancing along.
  • Visiting birds of prey with afternoon tea from 3pm to 4pm. Everyone will be able to handle and stroke the gorgeous array of birds.
  • Find out more here.

Steepleton Manor

  • Join us for Gardening Club from 10:30am to 12pm.
  • Alpaca’s will visit Steepleton from 2pm to 3pm.
  • Alan Knott providing Dorset Folk music entertainment from 3pm to 4pm.
  • Art Club exhibition will be on throughout the day in the main hall.
  • Find out more here.

And much more – so, what are you waiting for? Come along and meet our residents and staff and to find out why we have been supporting the local community for over 30 years.

Putting the Fun Back Into Food for People With Dementia

For people with dementia, maintaining a healthy and balanced diet can be difficult. People often feel less like eating for a number of reasons. Food might not taste the same as it used to, or sometimes it can be physically hard to eat because of pain or reduced motor skills and coordination. Depression is also common, meaning that meal times and food lose their appeal.

When communication becomes difficult, the only way to express the fact that food is too hot, too cold, hard to eat, or just doesn’t taste right may be to leave it. And not eating or eating the wrong things could make a condition worse. While there is no conclusive proof, there is a growing body of evidence to say that a healthy diet, low in salt and saturated fats, and high in antioxidants and Omega-3s can help slow the onset of dementia.

Dementia and Nutrition

There are many things that can be done to encourage people with dementia to eat and drink more and the Alzheimer’s Society has some excellent information on its website. We use many of these techniques at Sherborne House, which specialises in dementia care.

Overall, we aim to reconnect people with the enjoyment of food and eating. Partly this is through the design of the eating environment so that mealtimes are calm and as free of distractions as possible. We also encourage residents to engage with their food by preparing healthy sandwiches and fruit salads and by baking cakes. These are fun, social activities that help to associate food with positive emotions and thoughts, rather than being a source of anxiety or conflict.

The positive culture around eating not only stimulates appetites, it helps residents feel more confident and in control of their lives. Discussions about food can also stimulate reminiscence and maintain sensory abilities.

On the one hand eating and drinking can be a challenging aspect of dementia care, but they can also be therapeutic and encourage greater engagement with other people and enjoyment of life.

Why not come and see for yourself what life at Sherborne House is like? Contact us today on 01305 300 161 to arrange a visit.

Employees of the Month – January

We are delighted to reveal our Employees of the Month for January for our care homes. Each month, care home managers hand pick team members who demonstrate a passion for their role and go above and beyond to provide an excellent standard of care and support to residents.

Our Employees of the Month for January are:

Sherborne House

Wei Ji Gao

Congratulations to Wei Ji Gao at Sherborne House Care Home who is January’s Employee of the Month. Wei is the chef and cooks a marvellous full English breakfast and is a firm favourite with all the residents and staff.

Steepleton Manor

Tahila Castro Osorio

Congratulations to Tahila Castro Osorio at Steepleton Manor who is January’s Employee of the Month. Tahila is a nursing assistant and is a very thoughtful person who enjoys helping others. She always has a smile and demonstrates great flexibility and commitment whilst working hard at all times.

Weymouth Care Home

Poppy Macnair

Congratulations to Poppy Macnair at Weymouth Care Home who is January’s Employee of the Month.  Poppy demonstrates great commitment to the residents and families alike, so much that a family member wanted her to be considered for Employee of the Month. She goes over and above what is expected of her and has a kind nature meaning nothing is too much trouble.

Congratulations to all employees of the month!

Altogether Care and Wiltshire Farm Foods spread Christmas cheer

Last Christmas Altogether Care teamed up with Wiltshire Farm Foods to spread some Christmas cheer. Over 100 Christmas dinners generously donated by Wiltshire Farm Foods were hand-delivered by our Care at Home carers on Christmas Day to elderly and vulnerable people across Dorset and South Somerset.

Our carers also spent a little time with each person to enjoy a mince pie and pull a cracker.

67-year-old Kathleen, who lives in Weymouth said: “It is a nice thing because I can’t do it myself anymore and I used to get my food from Wiltshire Farm Foods as well.”

Becky Lloyd-Jones, from Wiltshire Farm Foods, added: “I think it’s a fantastic idea for the people who are alone this time of year.”

Dawn McGill, from Care at Home, said: “Christmas can be a lonely time for many older people and not everyone can spend Christmas with family. We visit our clients all year round to support them with a variety of daily tasks and wanted to extend that visit to include Christmas Day.”

We would like to extend our thanks to Wiltshire Farm Foods for their generous donations. You have helped to make a real difference to those in our local communities.

It Doesn’t Have to be a Choice Between Independent Living and Residential Care

It used to be assumed that care in later life came down to two choices. On the one hand, you could continue to live independently, with support, in your own home. On the other, you could have residential care, where you are effectively looked after.

In fact, choice probably isn’t the right word. The assumption was that residential care was where you went when you could no longer manage to live independently in your own home.

Retirement living and later life care is much more complex than a simple either/or choice between care at home or residential care. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. We are talking about individuals rather than stereotypes. And individuals have their own views on what they want and what should be on offer.

What People Want from Their Care

Steepleton Manor is a reflection of how many older people would choose to live their lives. They want a high standard of accommodation with a touch of luxury. Many want to get on with the things they enjoy doing without the bother of running their own home. They want to live in pleasant surroundings and an attractive environment. And most want the freedom to live as independently as possible.

Naturally, the need for care, help with tasks like washing, dressing or medication is a feature of later life for many. The residential setting means that the care they need is on hand and can easily be adapted as their needs change, which is highly reassuring.

Sometimes the best therapy of all in later life is the company, companionship and active lifestyle that comes with high-quality assisted living. If you’d like to see what this looks like in reality we’d be happy to show you around Steepleton Manor and our other care homes.

It Isn’t All Doom and Gloom in the Care Home Sector

Anyone who reads a newspaper or looks at a news website will know that the care sector faces problems. People are living longer and developing more complex care needs, while the funding for care services fails to keep pace with demand for services.

Most local authorities want to spend more on care but simply don’t have the cash to fund much beyond the most acute needs.

Care Homes Closing

According to the Health Foundation, funding for adult social care fell by 21% between 2009/10 and 2015/16 – at the same time as demand for services was increasing. A consequence of these pressures is that care homes are closing across the country because they simply can’t make the numbers add up. Altogether Care is just one of four remaining nursing care home providers in Weymouth, for example.

Demand Increasing

While over £7bn has been cut from social care budgets since 2010, we know that more people are needing elderly care services. The strain placed on informal networks of carers and family members is considerable.

The net effect is less choice. The business failures are affecting both smaller, independent care homes, rooted in their communities and the larger corporate organisations (sometimes owned by institutional investors), making it harder for people to know which homes are likely to be around into the future.

Bucking the Trend

But, like we said, it isn’t all doom and gloom. Altogether Care is finding a way to thrive in this environment. We put this down to our foundations as a local family-run organisation and the reputation we have worked hard to earn for delivering high-quality care for over 30 years.

We are not only surviving but investing and developing. We have planning permission recently granted for extending the number of rooms available at our Weymouth home and have recently refurbished the top floor at our luxury Grade II listed assisted living care home Steepleton Manor. This floor now offers a range of premium rooms and suites, some with kitchenette and en-suite facilities.

We have also recently opened a new Care at Home office in Southampton, and our new office in Salisbury is due to open February 2019 to extend our area of operation and support for local people.

The future for the care sector will remain challenging until there is a sustainable solution to the funding questions. In the meantime, there are still caring community-focused organisations that are able to build on their strengths and meet the needs of older people. Why not come and see for yourself what life with Altogether Care is really like? To arrange a visit, contact us today on 01305 206 140.

Supported Living: Why Care at Home isn’t just About Care

A lot of people still have an inaccurate picture of what care at home and supported living mean for many elderly people. While some elderly care does involve nursing support for complex health needs, in many cases help is needed for everyday tasks that people find difficult.

Some people choose care at home simply to have more time to do what they want rather than chores such as cleaning and shopping. They find that care at home leaves more time for doing what they want to do and takes away the worry of doing chores they find laborious or difficult.

Care at Home or supported living can also help people get out of the home more regularly, with assisted shopping trips or help to travel to and from social activities.

Companionship and Elderly Care

Another major benefit of supported living care is companionship. One reason many choose care at home, apart from keeping the familiarity of their own surroundings, is the flexibility. It can be easier for relatives and friends to fit visits around their lives without having fixed times or routines. At times, such as family holidays, when family visits aren’t possible there’s the reassurance that there will be a friendly and familiar face each day.

Family visits can also be richer when the basic chores have been taken care of and there’s more time to sit and talk. And for people without family living nearby, regular visits from their home care team can be a particularly welcome way to break up the day.

In many cases it may be more accurate to talk about elderly support rather than elderly care. The need isn’t for medical care but for a little help with some basic household tasks to make life easier and more enjoyable.

If you or an elderly relative are starting to find basic household tasks a bit challenging, a care at home service might be just what’s needed to brighten life up. Contact us today on 01305 300161 to find out more or click here.

All I want for Christmas is…

Santa has been busy asking residents and staff what they most would like for Christmas.  It may be no surprise that high up on the list is the wish to see more of family members.

Here is a selection of Christmas wishes from both Steepleton Manor and Sherborne House.

A chocolate cake, a drum, a dog, a new football. A trip to the pub, a trip to see the Christmas decorations at Poundbury Garden Centre, a trip to see a classical musician, a box of Thornton’s chocolates and one resident would simply love a surprise.

Staff also have a wish list which includes a new car, a new iPad, a million pounds and quality time with family at Christmas with everyone having a good time.

Here’s hoping there is a big chimney!

Christmas Traditions at Sherborne House

Carols by candlelight on Christmas Eve is a favourite Christmas tradition at Sherborne House. On Christmas Day, residents tuck into a traditional Christmas dinner with all the trimmings and open gifts. They then watch the Queen’s speech.

Staff put on their Christmas outfits and hats each year to create some additional festive fun.

Employee of the Month – October & November

We are delighted to reveal our Employees of the Month for October and November for Steepleton Manor and Sherborne House. Each month, care home managers hand pick team members who demonstrate a passion for their role and go above and beyond to provide an excellent standard of care and support to residents.

Our Employees of the Month for October are:

Sherborne House

Amy Trowbridge-Smith

Amy was invaluable in the coordination of eight new residents arriving at Sherborne House. Amy chose to come in on her days off and worked closely with alongside the Operations Manager.  The transfer of the new residents went smoothly and meant that everyone settled into their new environment with ease after what was already a distressing experience for them due to their home closing.

Steepleton Manor

Salka Moylaye Mohammed

Salka is reliable, selfless and always willing to help the rest of the team. She is flexible and works both day and nights shifts. Her positive attitude and outgoing personality always brighten up the day for both residents and staff.

Our Employees of the Month for November are:

Sherborne House

Chantelle Gale

Chantelle is always willing to help everyone by agreeing to different shifts, covering other staff shifts in various departments and has won great admiration and respect from her colleagues.

Steepleton Manor

Angela Gait

Angela joined the team in June this year and shows great passion for her work. She always treats her colleagues, clients and supervisors with respect.  She organises many activities and consults with residents about what they’d like to do. In addition to booking external suppliers to provide entertainment, Angela organises day trips.

Congratulations to all employees of the month!

Remembrance Sunday

Earlier this month, Sherborne House received a visit from The Yeovilton Naval Servicemen on Remembrance Day. RNAS Yeovilton is one of the Navy’s two principal air bases, and one of the busiest military airfields in the UK.

It is home to more than 100 aircraft operated on both front-line squadrons and training units, including the Fleet Air Arm Wildcat Force and the Commando Helicopter Force, plus vintage aircraft of the RN Historic Flight.

Residents had taken the time to make poppies for the homes remembrance wall. Personnel took the time to spend a few hours meeting residents and joined in with staff to sing Happy Birthday to Olive who is celebrating her 100th Birthday this month.

Everyone observed the 2-minute silence as Big Ben struck 11 am followed by a prayer by one of our staff Paul, who is also a pastor. And of course, no celebration would be complete without a slice of chocolate cake!


Ninesprings Country Park

With the amazing Ninesprings Country park on our doorstep, residents and staff at Sherborne House took advantage of the glorious autumn weather recently and went for an afternoon out at the former Country estate and gardens. Its 9 Springs surface and trickle down to form a lake and enter a brook, then the River Yeo.

A former railway line runs along the bottom of the hill and it is now used for walks and rides right along beside the river to Pen Mill/Sherborne Road.

We had to complete the afternoon with a belly-warming drink at the Ninesprings Café ….a day well spent and enjoyed by all.


Lack of Dementia Friendly Housing is a Major Issue in the UK

One feature of the UK’s housing crisis that rarely gets attention is the severe lack of dementia friendly housing. Compared with countries like Australia, France and the Netherlands we have a major lack of options for people with dementia once their condition makes their existing home unsuitable.

There are modifications that can be made to most homes that would make them more suitable for a person with dementia. Age UK has published a range of helpful ideas on their website.  Modifications will be easier and cheaper to carry out in some properties than others.

Sometimes, modifying a home sufficiently may not be feasible. And sometimes the particular impairments experienced by a person with dementia may make living in their home (even with modifications) unsuitable.

And here’s where life can get difficult. Even many retirement properties have not been designed, decorated or equipped with dementia in mind. Residential care may become the best, or in some cases, the only viable option. But even here there can be problems if the home is not set up to cater for dementia residents.

The Dementia Friendly Care Home

The environment within the care home is critical. Without careful thought and adaptation, a care home could become a bewildering and unsettling place to live, particularly for a new resident who has to get used to new surroundings, people and routines.

The interior decor makes a huge difference in making the living space calming and manageable. Avoiding busy patterns will make the environment easier to deal with and colour contrasts can be used to help residents easily find their way to the toilet or their bedroom. Additionally, memory triggers and familiar images from a relevant era help residents feel more at home and relaxed and can help with navigation.

Sherborne House specialises in care for people with dementia. We’ve specifically designed and decorated the interior to ensure that our residents with dementia feel at ease and supported, and able to live as independently as possible. To find out more, contact us today on 01305 206 140.

What Will More Technology in Care Mean for Service Users?

Like most walks of life, the care sector is experiencing technological change. The pace of change is likely to increase rather than decrease.

For some, more technology and automation conjures up an image of a world where social care becomes dehumanised, where conversations are with computer applications and chatbots rather than people. Or where a friendly robot takes care of domestic duties. We believe the reality will be very different, and much more human.

If we look at the technology we are currently using it actually creates more human interaction rather than less. It enhances personal care rather than replacing it.

Care staff use handheld PDA’s to make sure they have instant access to information about service users, their care plans and personal preferences, wherever they are working. Record keeping and observations such as food and drink intake are made in a few clicks.

Real Time Information and Enhanced Care

Care staff have better information to work with and have to spend less time updating or sharing it. Which leaves more time to talk and to develop relationships. Using real-time information enables the delivery of better-quality care that is more focused on the needs of each individual.

Relatives are able to access information for greater peace of mind and have an involvement in care where relevant.

On a grander scale, technology opens the way to even more advancements in care. Artificial intelligence and machine learning ought to do a better job of predicting and planning care needs within an area. Virtual Reality is already helping to improve wellbeing for dementia patients by allowing them to experience environments they knew from years ago.

Good social care has always been, and will always be, something that has human interaction and relationships at its core. Technology will not change this; it will enhance rather than replace those interactions. It will also bring the entire ‘team around the person’ closer together, which includes care staff, health professionals, family and carers.

For anyone interested in better quality, more personalised care, technology is something to be embraced rather than resisted.

To arrange a visit to one of our care homes to see how we are delivering better quality care focused on individual needs, contact us today on 01305 300 161.

30 Years in Care Celebration at Steepleton Manor – a Great Success!

On Saturday 6th October, Steepleton Manor Care Home near Dorchester opened its doors to the local community to celebrate 30 Years in Care.

The event was a great success, providing a chance for guests to look around the newly refurbished luxury assisted living rooms and facilities and raise money for local charity Hangers Heroes.

The Dorchester Town Cryer opened the event, following a performance from traditional Highland piper Piper 2000. Live music was provided by Poole Borough Band with songs from the likes of Oklahoma, Singing in the Rain and The Beatles, and Wessex FM broadcasting live from the home. Dorchester Classic Vehicle Club’s display of classic cars took pride of place in front of the home.

Residents, staff and guests enjoyed a performance of ‘The Gold Old Days’ Pantomime from Party Time Productions, with younger guests being entertained with balloon modelling from Totally Twisted and face painting from About Face. Jester Patch provided two lively performances for everyone to enjoy – complete with audience participation! We even managed to fit some Alpacas and Owls into the main hall for everyone to meet.

Altogether Care CEO Steve Knell said: “It was a real pleasure to showcase Steepleton Manor at such a special event celebrating 30 years as a family run care provider. It was great to see so many faces from the past and present – staff, residents, clients and entertainers. It made for a really special day.”

A total of £486 was raised for Hangers Heroes – we would like to extend a huge thank you to all performers, guests and care home staff for making the day a huge success.

You can view the photos from the day from visiting our Facebook page.

Employee of the Month – September

We are delighted to reveal our Employees of the Month for September for each of our care homes. Each month, care home managers at Sherborne House, Steepleton Manor and Weymouth Care Home will hand pick team members who demonstrate a passion for their role and go above and beyond to provide excellent standard of care and support to residents.

Our Employees of the Month for September are:

Sherborne House

Paul Parker

Paul is an absolute Superstar who helps out at the drop of a hat covering day or night shifts. He sings and dances with the residents and has no trouble raising a few smiles!

Weymouth Care Home

Stacey Williams

Stacey has worked at Weymouth Care Home for five years and continues on a daily basis to make a difference to so many resident’s lives with her hard work and caring nature.

Steepleton Manor

Alan Mead

Alan joined the team in 2016 and is simply a great nurse. He demonstrates care, compassion, competence, courage commitment and great communication.

Congratulations to all Employees of the Month!

Awards at Sherborne House

Two members of staff at Sherborne House received an Altogether Care five year award badge this month.

Martin Middleton, a Carer, was given some Harry Potter memorabilia and Chelsie Spicer, a Senior Carer, some Addams Family items at a special presentation with their manager, Caroline Sharp.

Well done Martin and Chelsie.

Community Care Team are Outstanding

Staff from Care at Home in Yeovil have been praised for their outstanding care service in a recent inspection by the Care Quality Commission.

Over 100 local people receive care in their own homes by the staff in the Yeovil office which received an overall rating of ‘Good’.

The two day inspection took place in June and focused on a variety of areas including safety, management and how responsive the staff are.

A total of 25 care staff work at the office which is part of Altogether Care, a Dorset based care provider which is family owned.

Care skills and knowledge were also praised along with staff’s ability to build relationships with their service users.  The report also stated that dignity and privacy were respected at all times and the Manager of the Yeovil office was open and approachable.

The report also highlighted that systems are in place to monitor the quality of the service and to respond to concerns and complaints and to learn from issues raised and that people received effective care and support from staff who had the skills and knowledge to meet their needs.

Caitlin Hughes, Manager of Care at Home in Yeovil said,

“We are all delighted to receive such a positive result of our recent inspection. We may be a small team but we deliver a big service.  We do our best to offer the best possible care service to local residents in their own homes and we respect that each person is an individual with different requirements”.

Photo L-R: Lisa Charles-Field, Caitlin Hughes, Zoe Jone, Helen Lambden

Active and Socially Connected – Health and Wellbeing in Later Life

There is a wide body of evidence to show that being physically and socially active in our later years leads to fewer health problems and may well prolong life. Among the many advantages of assisted living is the fact that company is always easy to find, and that leisure and physical activities are easier to access than for many older people.

Activity programmes play an important part at all our Care Homes. And because we know about care so well from 30 years in the sector, it’s easier to provide activities that residents will enjoy and find the most beneficial.

The setting of the home can provide plenty of opportunities. A stroll around the beautiful grounds at Steepleton Manor, for example, is a delight in almost any weather- the Tuesday gardening club is a great time for socialising, as well as the opportunity to do something practical and meaningful. All our homes feature outside spaces for residents to enjoy the fresh air whenever they want.

Physical Activity

Further physical activity is provided through ball games and chair aerobics, with plans to extend the programme further.  Craft and art activities are proven to have emotional and cognitive benefits, and residents can take part in art classes, jewellery making and pottery decoration. There are also guided meditation sessions, which can be beneficial physically and emotionally.

We also have an active film club as well as regular visits from musicians and singers and regular trips out.

For too many older people ageing means increasing isolation and reduced participation, which inevitably impacts on physical and emotional wellbeing. Our aim is to ensure that our residents are able to enjoy and lead a full life in their later years.

We are also keen to ensure that our residents remain connected to the outside world. So we are currently working on increasing community involvement by liaising with the local school and church. This will be very beneficial to all.

At Steepleton Manor and our other care homes, physical and social activity is part of everyday life.

Why not visit us to see for yourself what life at the Manor is really like? Contact us on 01305 300 161.

Employee of the Month – July

We are delighted to reveal our Employees of the Month for July for each of our care homes. Each month, care home managers at Sherborne House, Steepleton Manor and Weymouth Care Home will hand pick team members who demonstrate a passion for their role and go above and beyond to provide excellent standard of care and support to residents.

Our Employees of the Month for July are:

Sherborne House

Dean Greenslade

Dean is always willing to help whenever he can and demonstrates efficiency at work.  He is a valuable asset to Sherborne House.

Weymouth Care Home

Alan Stevens

Alan has been nominated for his cheery disposition, winning smile and for how attentive he is to the resident’s needs, providing mouth-watering, nutritious meals.

Steepleton Manor

Deborah Stanford

Apart from being a good carer, Debbie is kind-hearted, considerate and cheerful. She brightens a room when she walks in with her sunny smile and cheerful greetings. She is reliable with great time keeping skills and a great asset to the team.

Congratulations to all Employees of the Month!

Some recent day to day activities