Posted: 13.01.21 at 08:30 by Philippa Davies
Doveleigh Care is a leading light in the residential care sector. Over the last few years, its three care homes in Sidmouth, Seaton and Colyton (Arcot House, Dove Court and Doveridge) have consistently achieved the highest possible ratings from the national watchdog, the Care Quality Commission, and won a string of awards for excellence.
According to Senior Manager, Samantha Evens, the key to this success is having the right staff and making sure they know how valued they are. Sidmouth Nub News asked Samantha to tell us a bit more about what she looks for in her employees and how the company shows its appreciation.
How many staff do you have across the three homes, and what are their roles?
We have over 85 staff across our care homes and the various roles we have include a General Manager, a Senior Manager, Managers, Assistant Managers, Senior Carers, Care Assistants, Domestics, Cooks, Activity co-ordinators, a full Maintenance team and an Administrator.
Can you explain your policy of over-staffing, so as not to use agency workers - what's the thinking behind that?
The Director has never used agency staff. Our thinking behind this is because it is important that our residents always know who is looking after them for consistency and for our carers to be able to have the best care possible on an individual basis.
We deliberately try to always over-recruit to 120% of requirement. This over recruitment comfortably allows for sickness, training, maternity and annual leave to happen without overstretching the remaining staff.
Before Covid, we would also encourage staff to work across all the homes and share practices. Although this is not advisable in the present Covid-19 environment, we look forward to being able to resume this approach in the future.
What personal qualities do you think make an excellent care home worker and how are these qualities demonstrated by your staff?
I feel it takes someone who is caring, understanding, flexible and a good listener to make an excellent carer. We are fortunate to have such an excellent team at Doveleigh Care. Each and every one of our staff brings something special and different to our team.
Our staff always go that extra mile with their day-to-day role and with their additional roles of Keyworkers and Ambassadors. For example, one resident loved to have fish and chips from the local chippy. As they are presently unable to attend, their keyworker brought some to them, which they thoroughly enjoyed.
The Covid pandemic has posed immense challenges to care home managers and staff. How have you all coped? What particular strengths did it bring out in your staff? Can you give some examples of how they've gone out of their way to help residents and their families?
I really don’t know where to start. This has been a real rollercoaster of a year, but there have been some real silver linings.
We have increased activity hours to allow for smaller group sessions, 1-2-1s, safe visits and regular Zoom sessions. We have coped by supporting one another. We have staff wellbeing ambassadors and management have always been present on the front line the whole time to offer support and help where it is needed.
We have staff wellbeing boxes, which we top up with items for the staff, whether it be inspirational quotes, lip balms, treats or therapy colouring. We also gave the staff movie night boxes during lockdown. One resident attended a virtual baby shower of their niece.
You obviously appreciate your staff very much - how do you express that appreciation? For example, do you celebrate their birthdays, recognise their work achievements, etc?
We celebrate staff birthdays with a card and a birthday cake and a singalong with residents and other staff. All staff are rewarded on a daily basis with praise from management and we also give loyalty service badges after one year. On their five, 10, 15 and 20 year anniversaries they awarded a certificate and a bonus for their continuous employment and loyalty.
We have a monthly bonus scheme where we put staff forward for covering shifts at short notice, or excellent feedback from residents/relatives indicating where staff have gone that extra mile. We also have an annual overtime bonus which staff receive in December, just prior to Christmas.
We celebrate mental wellbeing and have staff appreciation days with small gifts to show how much we value our staff. We have ‘Wow Walls’ in the care homes where we praise each other and share feedback. We recently rewarded our staff with personalised Lockdown Hero medals and a certificate of appreciation. For Christmas, every staff member received a Christmas Hamper from the Director, which was handpicked by him and management.
Here are some of the awards and accolades Doveleigh Care, its homes and management staff have achieved in recent years:
September 2014 Dove Court, Seaton CQC Outstanding (2 domains)
November 2016 Doveridge, Colyton CQC Outstanding (3 domains)
May 2017 Arcot House, Sidmouth CQC Outstanding (all 5 domains)
November 2017 Arcot House, Sidmouth NCA Winner - National Care Home 2017
November 2017 Doveleigh Care Ltd NCA Winner - National Care Home Group 2017
November 2018 Samantha Evens GBCA Winner - Regional Manager 2018
November 2018 Doveleigh Care Ltd GBCA Winner - Regional Care Home Group 2018
June 2019 Various multiple awards Devon & Cornwall Care Awards
September 2019 Dove Court, Seaton CQC Outstanding (3 domains)
October 2019 Doveridge, Colyton CQC Outstanding (4 domains)
November 2019 Samantha Evens NCA Finalist – National Care Home Manager 2019
March 2020 Arcot House, Sidmouth CQC Outstanding (all 5 domains, again)
November 2020 Amy Burt NCA Winner – National Area Manager 2020
November 2020 Samantha Evens NCA Winner - National Care Home Manager 2020
November 2020 Arcot House, Sidmouth NCA Finalist - National Care Home 2020
In addition to the above, Doveleigh Care Ltd, as a care home group provider, has been awarded National Top Twenty status from reviews received by carehome.co.uk for each of the last six consecutive years.