Nursing Home gains 5 Star Rating

Head Chef Matt Prideaux & Darren Knight

Edenmore Nursing Home, in Ilfracombe, was awarded the maximum five stars again, in the latest food hygiene rating by the Food Standards Agency. Head Chef at Edenmore, Matt Prideaux, is in his 3rd year of working as a head Chef at the home and is very proud that the kitchen has been awarded this maximum rating every year since he took over.

Matt and his team impressed the inspector from North Devon Council, who arrived to carry out an unannounced inspection on the 21st May. He left well assured that the standards were exemplary and hygiene was always maximised.

The home manager, Paula Mascall, was delighted and said: “Achieving 5-stars again is a great achievement and testament to the hard work of Matt and his team. They ensure that everyone living with us has a fantastic choice of food which is always nutritious, well-presented and results in always dining with dignity.”

Every day, Matt and his team cook tasty vegetarian and meat based meals for the home’s forty-five “family members”. Speaking at Edenmore, Matt said: “I love working here and having the best team around me is half the battle won. When preparing the menus, we understand everyone’s tastes and nutritional needs. The most popular recipes are probably chicken and bacon pie, and veg curry for the meat-free eaters.

Paula and her team at Edenmore Nursing Home have thanked Matt for his years of brilliant work and look forward to many more 5-star meals.

Jerry Short, care writer

A Bard’s View on Dementia

April is Poetry Month, at least in the USA. Over here we tend to join in but maintain our British feeling of literary superiority because our lists of poems and famous poets are much longer than those of our American cousins and I’m pretty sure that most of us can quote a line or two from Wordsworth. Poetry is designed to make the beauty of words visible and I had recently come across some poems written by a senior governance nurse, Karen Tidy, that focus not on daffodils or clouds, but dementia care. A subject that is not the most obvious to write verses about.

Karen is at the centre of Evolve Care Group and supports 6 care and nursing homes, one of which is Edenmore Nursing Home in Ilfracombe and I thought her poems offered a fascinating insight into the world of dementia care.  As a senior governance nurse her work involves supporting everyone within all the homes to maintain their best physical and emotional well-being.

The individuals that Karen supports at Edenmore are always referred to as family members and some happen to live with dementia which is a difficult condition that gradually erodes all the nuances and subtleties that make you who you are. The home uses a “Household Model of Care” which aims to create a true continuation of home life and means that choice and remaining independent for as long as possible is at the forefront of everything they do.

I was interested in discovering how such a dark subject could inspire Karen and ask, in this age of watching movies on our phones and having Australia in the Eurovision Song Contest, is there is still a place for writing poetry in the 21st Century?

When I met Karen, I noted that she had kind, smiling eyes and a shy disposition. Within seconds of me asking how she got into caring, she told me how her father had passed away when she was just ten, she immediately embraced the role of caring for her siblings which made the move into professional caring a logical and natural step for her as soon as she was old enough.  She talked passionately about how much she loves what she does and being in the homes, helping people is second nature to her.  She says that knowing that she is making a real difference keeps her going.

Her love of poetry comes purely from her emotions and the words seem to simply pop into her head, prompted by what she sees, feels or hears. She finds it hard to write planned poetry, much preferring to write rhyming lines spontaneously.  I was busy scrawling my notes trying to keep up with her when she said something that struck me as poignant.

She explained that a few years ago, she had been on a specialist course that taught end of life care and said that seeing people confined to their beds who were unable to verbalise got her wondering what they were thinking and feeling. She says it is imperative that the people she cares for are still spoken to and included in discussions. As soon as you stop doing that, she explained, the person becomes part of a conveyer belt system, on their way to their end.

She also became acutely aware of how hard it must be for them to lie in bed and hear laughter from passers-by in the hallways outside. She concluded by saying that caring is like music. A silent music, and the most important thing for a carer is to have a big heart. I knew at that point that we need more carers like Karen, who gives a new meaning to the term nursing care. And in case you’re wondering, yes, there is a place for poetry in the 21st Century.

An excerpt from Let’s Just Get It Right ©Karen Tidy 2016

The level of care and support that we give,

Dictates the standard of life that they live.

Time and attention, and a listening ear

Will dictate a plan of care that is clear.

Likes and dislikes, one sugar or two,

Walk with a Zimmer, with slippers or shoes.

A bath or a shower, which they like best,

A bra, a T-shirt or old stringy vest.

To eat at the table, with a spoon or a fork,

To sit there in silence or choosing to talk.

“I like rice, not potatoes, crackers not bread

Coffee not tea, I like that instead.”

Oh, please give me choices,

I know I can’t speak

Then show me a picture of what I may eat.

Wearing my night wear on top of my clothes,

Or my makeup all smudgy right over my nose.

Does this really matter? At least I have tried,

And managed to maintain independence and pride.

When I go to the toilet, please give me a chance,

Don’t stand there and hold me, then pull down my pants.

You make me feel frightened, you fill me with fright,

Then I just react with a kick and a fight,

And then I am labelled – it’s not really my fault

It’s a natural response to a downright assault.

For the Love of Art



Care writer, Jerry Short visited the 45-bed Edenmore Nursing Home in Ilfracombe, to visit Jenny Melland who lives with early-stage Parkinson’s, to find out how her life had changed since moving there over two years ago. She was busy painting when he arrived at the home. “Art is my whole way of doing things” she explained when he met her.

Jerry said, “When I asked if the move had made her life any easier, she said yes, life was much easier now. She found she was not just being supported to do the things she enjoyed, but she was encouraged to continue with them. One of the things she loved most about the home is that she now had time to paint when she wanted to because she is supported. She only has to ask for a cup of tea, and someone would bring one and be happy to sit with her and chat. Jerry continued “She agreed when I jokingly suggest it was like having her cake, drawing it and eating it!”

When Jenny was younger, she enjoyed her art classes at school and grew up greatly admiring the work of classical artists such as Rembrandt, but now she is in her 73rd year her tastes have matured to include contemporary artists such as David Hockney and the renowned, Bristol artist, Banksy.
Unfortunately, Jenny’s Parkinson’s affected her ability to hold pens and brushes so easily, but she has not given up her love of drawing. Jerry said “She continued to sketch whilst talking to me. She prefers to work with a soft 6B pencil since they are good for light and shade. Whilst I was sat with her, two different care team members came to check on her to see if there was anything they could do. The first wanted to know if she’d like a juice and the second sat next to her and said quietly “I can steady your hand if that would help”, she declined both offers but their continual discreet observation as to who may need care, impressed me.”

He asked her if the condition has stopped her doing anything. “Yes, it has affected my mobility,” she told him, “So I miss my trips up to the National Portrait Gallery, but I do love living at Edenmore. They really look after me and being able to draw, helps me to relax”.
The care team at Edenmore provide residential and nursing care, as well as dementia support. They employ a “Household Model of Care” which creates a true continuation of home. Their “Household Model” of care means that choice is at the forefront of everything they do. Their family members can choose when they want to go to bed, what they would like to fill their days with and what they would like to eat.

The team also know that art is very therapeutic and improves ‘well-being. It can also be used to address specific symptoms of conditions such as Parkinson’s. With art there is no such thing as a “wrong” mark, every mark is valid.
According to the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s, art therapy is a popular and effective way of increasing activity in the brain. They say - “When drawing or painting, you are using both the right and the left hemispheres of your brain and is an excellent form of therapy”.
So, with a sea view, comfortable and safe surroundings and a care team that encourages painting and creativity to flow, living with a heightened sense of well-being is all part of life at Edenmore.

It’s Good to Read

Gerald Bailey, a sage 91-year-old retiree, is sitting in a comfortable armchair in a lounge at Edenmore Nursing Home, reading about trains. More specifically, he is reading about steam trains in a copy of Railway Magazine, which is a journal that currently sells more than 34,000 copies a month and is more popular now than it has ever been.

Gerald has been living at Edenmore Nursing Home since November 2017 and when I contacted them in my research to investigate the ways people living in care homes chose to keep occupied, they suggested that I come down and have a chat with him. Gerald lives with dementia, which is a condition that affects almost one in two people once they get over eighty-five-years old, and keeping the brain engaged by reading is an excellent neural exercise that is thought to slow down the rate at which dementia advances.

Edenmore always refer to anyone living with them as family members, rather than residents, which I thought was a lovely touch and they offer a wide range of ways for their family members to keep occupied. There are weekly music performances and clubs that can be involved , with visits from local churches so that hymns can be sung, and services heard, flower arranging sessions and games that can be played.

When I met Gerald, he was very happy to talk about trains. He told me he used to work for British Railways, the forerunner to British Rail, having joined the Civil Engineers Department at Bristol Temple Meads Station in 1945. When I asked what his job involved, he nodded and adjusted his glasses.
“We didn’t work on the trains themselves, but did work on the bigger jobs that involved bridges and tracks, that’s what we did as engineers”
“If there was anything wrong” he continued, “It was our job to find it and fix it”

Edenmore are always looking for new ways to keep all their family members happily occupied, rather than perhaps dozing because they have nothing else to do. Options on offer can range from games to day trips and from music to art. Unless that is, the family members have their own preferred ways to keep themselves engaged, like Gerald.

“It takes me back“ he says, looking at the magazine, “And in those days, you could travel anywhere as most towns had a station, even the small ones. And we had free travel-cards which were one of the perks of the job.” He smiles before looking down at his magazine again.

The popularity and benefits of reading cannot be underestimated. The UK’s Reading Agency states that in a poll of four thousand people, readers for pleasure reported fewer feelings of stress and depression than non-readers, and stronger feelings of relaxation from reading than from watching television. Studies have shown that those who read for pleasure have higher levels of self-esteem and a greater ability to cope with difficult situations. Reading for pleasure was also associated with better sleeping patterns. These aspects are of great benefit to anyone living in  care such as Gerald.

In England, 36% of adults don't read for pleasure, despite the fact that research shows that it can reduce the symptoms of depression and help build relationships with others.

Knowing that Ilfracombe lost its station and line in 1970, I ask Gerald what it is like living in Edenmore Nursing Home, which is in a town that is no longer connected to the rail network. He pauses before looking across to me.
“I feel like I’m always travelling in First Class, here, ” he smiles, as he settles back into his armchair.

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