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.
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.
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.