ExtraCare Traditions 6 – Sheep Dip

THIS IS ONE OF A SERIES OF BLOGS OVER THE NEXT FEW MONTHS DESCRIBING SOME OF THE HISTORY AND CULTURE OF THE EXTRACARE CHARITABLE TRUST.  THIS WAS THE ORGANISATION I FOUNDED AND WORKED FOR FROM 1987 THROUGH TO THE TIME I RETIRED IN 2010.  I HOPE IT WILL INSPIRE OTHERS TO LOOK AT NEW WAYS OF LIVING IN LATER LIFE.

For other blogs in this series, click on “ExtraCare Traditions” in the TAG CLOUD

From the very outset in ExtraCare, we were trying to do things differently and this meant we had to build a very strong culture which could be easily understood by residents and staff.  Our overall goal was to deliver “Better Lives for Older People”. 

The good thing was we didn’t see ourselves as a group of professionals with all the answers.  We knew what we didn’t know and therefore we had to build our ideas by consulting our residents.

In the early years we started this thought process with the Directors and Managers in regular monthly meetings.  These were then followed up with team briefings to all the staff in a regular monthly “Newsround” where I visited each home and scheme and briefed the morning, afternoon and nightshift staff.  This was a considerable commitment but it paid dividends in terms of everyone being aware of what we were trying to do, whilst at the same time giving me rapid feedback on the issues that were in the residents’ and staffs’ minds.

Once a year we drew all this together in an “Annual Away Day” with all the Directors and Managers.  The processes we used were facilitated by an excellent Change Man Consultant – Tony Turrell.  We talked about our core values and surveyed staff and residents for their views which we then discussed at the Away Day.  Talking over dinner I commented to Tony that it would be good to do this for all the staff so that they could all be immersed in the cultural discussions.  He said it would be a bit like a “Sheep Dip” and ever after the title stuck.  For several years going forward we held large scale training sessions for all the staff and later on included residents as well.

6.  Sheep Dip 1

The culmination of this stage of our Change Management process was a “Sheep Dip” event held at Allesley Hall, which was one of our nursing homes.  It was based on the 1930’s and everyone came dressed up and celebrated the achievements of the residents and staff through the year.  The team in the photo above were led by our Activities Manager – Mike Hallam.  Mike brought an amazing imagination to all of our activities and a great level of fun.  He was ably assisted by a talented team of entertainers and creative people.  Two of the most popular were Bill and Jan Butcher who are on the right in the photo above.

 6. Sheep Dip 2

One of the residents on the day demonstrated her skills at reading tea leaves.  Many other skills were shown on the day including choirs, writing, painting, cake making, all of which indicated our desire to focus on lifestyle opportunities rather than just the health, care and risk aversion focus that tended to be emphasised by the regulators.

We eventually dropped the “Sheep Dip” title but by that time the culture focused on creating “Better Lives for Older People” was very much embedded in our approach.

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One Response to ExtraCare Traditions 6 – Sheep Dip

  1. Extracare Traditions: They make me think, Calvert, orient express, driving a tank in Norfolk, gardens in Bloom, brolly walk, parcachute jumping, festivals of choirs, Handicrafts within Extracare-the show at Trenton Gardens visits to the commonweath games and a yatching extraganza in the eastern Med, and many more incidents, such as staff giving impromtu, variety shows, joining in village pantomime presentations, voulunteer and village fete’s parties at times of annual and national days of celebration. It all helped Villager meet villager or resident meet resident.
    All seem to bring an endles stream of fun and frivolity. Alas this is what I have been aware off since joing Extraare back in 2005 and then becoming a retirement village resident since 2007 July. From a personal note it has ben an invaluable experience, and I have with my wife dipped and dived into those themed events which took my interest. Under the current climate of austerity Extracare and their supporting sponsers still manage to organise and run some of these events, and actively support annual events or ‘Extracare Traditions’.
    More than anything else what I am greatful for is the time and manpower with support that was spent by the original Extracare Teams both in the Retirement villages, and shemes, to invest in what made golden oldies tick, and bring enlightenment to their own personal passage of time as a golden oldie in their own twilight years. The depth of understanding in little things such as volunteering (Gym, reception, cafe , restruant), gardening,crafts, singing and pastimes such as card playing, dancing and those odd moments in the well being Gym, and making a typical year as a resident of a scheme or retirement village enjoyable.
    The investment both in time and monies has been well spent, and should one visit maybe a modern Extracare Village or scheme, after the investment has been made in the corporate bricks and mortar, and the maintenenace costs in staff, the choice of staff and their training in a new venture, and then one may look at an older establishment and then look carefully, and the ethos and philosophy of the Extracare Way of living for the elderly, has been passed onto and down to each resident and village/scheme communities where every day and management action and residents action is challenged, and the best points taken and considered for action to the benifit of both the individual scheme/village or Extracare as a whole.
    I look forward to John’s revelations of the early days, as I hope the modern day governors and trustees are as broad thinking and as encouraging as John and his committee were in days gone past,, and keep the ethos of Extracare Charitable Trust is still upheld, in these dark days of austerity, which may be with us for the immediate and near future.

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