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.

85 years of Valentines Days

Edenmore Nursing Home welcomed local singing legend Terry Charles in to the home for a Valentine’s Day spectacular, a particularly special day for married family members Margaret and Gerald Bailey.

Margaret, known as Ellen, and Gerald Bailey have known each other for an astonishing 85 years, first meeting in 1933 when they were just 7 years old.  They first crossed paths when Gerald’s parents bought a grocery shop in Ilfracombe and Ellen just so happened to live on the same street.

They became Mr. and Mrs. Bailey in 1952 after a joyful ceremony held at St Peters Church in Ilfracombe and will celebrate their 67th wedding anniversary in March.

Ellen and Gerald, along with other people living at Edenmore, enjoyed the musical talents of Terry Charles who is a part of the local band ‘The Grumpy Old Men’ - an integral part of North Devon’s entertainment.  Terry plays 50’s and 60’s music along with some country and reminiscent numbers, there’s a song for everyone which is why he is welcomed back at Edenmore time after time.

Terry has been performing and entertaining the people living at Edenmore Nursing Home for over 10 years and is a firm favourite amongst family members and care team alike. “I love performing at Edenmore, I enjoy every show I perform.”

Happy Valentine's Day!

The 5 pillars of Comfort in Dementia Care

Comfort is defined as A state of physical ease, free from pain or constraint.

Comfort is also one of the six emotional and psychological needs highlighted by Professor Tom Kitwood, to maintain a sense of well-being for anyone living with dementia.

For a medium sized care organisation such as Evolve Care Group, keeping over 300 residents, whom they refer to as family members, living comfortably in their care homes, is a job that is not without its challenges. They advocate following 5 pillars of comfort.

1 Comfortably warm

The World Health Organisation’s standard for comfortable warmth for the elderly is at least 20 °C, but there is a certain amount of subjectivity with temperature preferences. Some choose to sit closer to a heat source, whereas some may opt to sit near a doorway or window, preferring cooler climes. To be a comfortable home, family members need access to both warm and cool locations.

2 Comfortably Sated

In the UK an adult eats an average of 3413 calories a day (approx. 1.8kg of food) but for somebody with dementia, this is likely to be lower, since eating difficulties are more noticeable as the dementia progresses and a reduced ability to taste or smell becomes evident, which reduces appetite. Desserts are often favoured over savoury foods, so, adding small amounts of honey or glucose to main courses can sometimes result in entire meals being consumed, as well as increasing the carbohydrate level of the food.

In later stages of dementia, chewing and swallowing can become difficult. Ben Kerslake, Evolve’s chef in their Frome Nursing Home, offers purees, moulded from casts of the food they are reconstituting, so that pureed carrots are served in a shape of a carrot. This has resulted in an increase in vegetable consumption. Eventually though, food may be refused entirely, in which case there is a difficult balance to be found between continuing to offer sustenance whilst maintaining that person’s dignity.

3 Comfortable Environment

To offer excellent dementia care, a calm environment is needed to help family members relax and rest.

Care homes need to be carefully designed and attention paid to noise levels, intensity of lighting and the décor of rooms, including colour and patterns on walls and carpets. Quiet areas need to be offered, for those that need a peaceful spot and the use of Bluetooth headphones can ensure those wanting to listen to music or watch television, can do so without disturbing those around them. In terms of lighting, minimising shadows and bright reflections can enable family members to relax more.

The Group’s Sundial Care Home uses the skills of an interior designer to make sure anyone living there is as comfortable as possible and this may have helped them in a recent inspection by CGC who rated the home as Outstanding.

4 Comfortably Occupied

Keeping those with dementia, occupied is an important part of care.  Activities improve self-esteem and can reduce loneliness. Walks around the garden or day- trips outside are recommended in the earlier stages of dementia. They are healthy activities and even when later stages have been reached, music is an entertaining way to stay occupied. The part of the brain that deals with the recognition of songs, thankfully remains comparatively unaffected by the condition. Music can still bring pleasure, even when vocal communication is no longer possible.

Person centred care is offered because it increases well-being. The key is being adaptive and observing situations from the resident’s point of view which means problems can often be avoided. If, as happened recently, a family member entered a dining room at 11:30pm, asking for breakfast, the Night Care Team sat them down and offered them breakfast.  Had they tried explaining that it wasn’t breakfast time, and offered a cup of cocoa instead, this would have caused confusion and been disorientating.






5 Comfortably Housed

Making a living area dementia friendly is not a science. Bringing in personal items from former homes is important, such as photos, or a favourite blanket, or even favoured items of furniture that have a long family history, can be moved in. These can provide reassurance and remind the person which room they are in. Making a care home comfortable also means anticipating needs. It means managing pain before it is out of control, it means encouraging someone to rest before fatigue sets in and engaging with someone before they become bored or lonely.

Team Work

This sort of care operation relies on up to 450 skilled care staff and is a 24 hour a day ministration, so the fees charged can be high, but comfort, dementia expertise and safety do not come cheaply. The company spends around £80,000 a year, just on gas. It is not surprising to learn that the number of residential care businesses that went out of business, almost doubled last year, with 148 closures. Accountants have said the introduction of the national living wage has driven up the cost of providing care, but what is the alternative? Uncomfortable and unsafe care?

Comfort in a care environment is about carefully listening and observing to ensure the well-being of everyone is maintained. Or, put another way, it can mean breakfast at 11:30pm sat on a favourite sofa in a home from home.

Jerry Short, Content writer, Evolve Care Group

Undressing the Uniform Debate

In a Nursing Times survey in 2014, almost 60% of staff consulted, indicated that they thought uniforms were an important part of the job. It is, like the uniforms, a multi-layered topic that generates strong opinions.

The Evolve Care Group run 6 care and nursing homes across the South West of the UK, employing some 450 carers and offering over a million hours of specialist care, over the last 14 months.

Four years ago, they started discussing the pros and cons of not wearing uniforms. After careful consideration, they decided that this was a good idea because it was in line with their Household Model of Care and would help them minimise the institutionalisation seen in their care homes.


They announced to their Care Teams across the company, that they no longer needed to wear a uniform. By and large, the teams were delighted, but a few carers argued against it. One said that she thought that uniforms were important because they were respected, and it simplified identifying senior carers.

At the time, Health Care Assistant, Rose Pearce, from the group’s Gibraltar Nursing Home in Monmouth, said visitors needed to quickly identify who they could talk to about important care issues and argued to keep the wearing of uniforms.

Talking with her recently, however, she has changed her mind, completely.

She said “It’s not often that I admit that I was wrong, but I was”

She went on to say that within the first few weeks of giving up uniforms, she began to notice the people she cared for, who are referred to as family members by the care teams, started commenting on the clothes she and the other team members wore to work. Nobody had ever commented on the uniforms, before, she said, but since but the change, they were regularly hearing comments such as “I love that top” and “That colour really suits you, dear”

She also noted that the care staff and family members seemed more relaxed and began to realise how divisive uniforms had been, drawing a line between the carers and the cared for.

Being able to choose what to wear for work also meant that staff were able to choose clothes to wear that would be more likely to generate a positive reaction, such as wearing a particular football top when working with a family member who supported that team, or wearing a T-shirt with a picture of a horse, and asking if anyone had ever been horse riding.

Communication levels between carer and cared for, increased, as did the level of wellbeing.

Although uniforms made it easier to recognise care staff, this was primarily benefitting visitors to the Home. For the family members, especially if they were living with dementia, seeing a uniform was not something they were used to seeing in their own homes and could increase levels of anxiety. Also, from the Care Teams’ point of view, uniforms could be uncomfortable and poorly designed, or cheaply made. It also seemed that some people had an antipathy towards uniforms. This may have its roots in our history of associating them with war or the emergency services or even school bullies.

Nocturnally, the care teams were encouraged to wear night attire, such as dressing gowns and pyjamas, so that if a family member rose in the night and saw a carer in a nightie or pyjamas, this seemed normal, but had the carer been wearing a uniform, this could have become problematic.

Evolve’s bold policy change has won favour with the CQC which recently rated one of its homes as Outstanding. Inspectors found that no uniforms promoted an “inclusive family environment” and minimised confusion for people living with dementia.

Having received top marks and approval from CQC, the Group now plans to roll out its innovative model of care with an ambitious £75m acquisition and new development plan.”  Jerry Short

Q: What eats 28,000kg of strawberries and drinks 330,000 cups of tea? A: The crowds at Wimbledon and at Edenmore Nursing Home, Ilfracombe

Watched by 300 million viewers in 200 countries, and with 500,000 spectators in attendance over the 2-week period, Wimbledon is the largest annual sporting event in Europe, with the cheapest seats for the finals currently costing around £4000, if you can get them!

It is much loved by audiences in the UK’s 11,300 Care Homes, too, with packed seats watching the matches in the build up to the Women’s final on 14th July and the men’s final on 15th.

At Edenmore Care Home, near Ilfracombe, the residents, are referred to as Family Members, and have matches viewable in numerous lounges and may be served traditional strawberries and cream and perhaps even a glass of something stronger than tea, to celebrate the finalists’ successes. The home has a speciality in caring for those living with dementia, and watching sport is thought to have a beneficial effect on that condition.

But what is it about this fascinating game that attracts so many viewers?

Perhaps it’s our pride in our own tennis stars, or the fact that it is the most famous tennis tournament in the world. Or is it the out-and out “Britishness” of it all with the strict, all-white uniforms, Henman Hill, and of course, the Royal Box?

When asked why they liked watching tennis, family members often cited the classic 1980 final between Borg and MacEnroe as the ultimate Wimbledon Final. MacEnroe saved 7 match points before finally losing to Borg in the 5th set.

This year, the only break in excitement levels at the Home­­­­­­­ is going to be when the call, “New balls please” is heard

Roll on Wimbledon. Now where’s my scone gone?

Jerry Short

Having her Jam and Eating it

For most people, spreading a slice of toast with jam is a task that takes but a moment from our busy lives, but for Audrey Payne, an 85 year old, living with dementia, this prosaic act is unusual as is frowned upon by some care homes. Audrey resides at the Edenmore Nursing Home in Ilfracombe, where they provide award winning nursing and dementia care for 47 older people. They are part of the Bristol based, Evolve Care Group.

They refer to their residents as “family members” and treatment is based on the six paragons of Comfort, Identity, Occupation, Attachment, Inclusion and Love. These are part of their “Household Model of Care” which aims to promote enablement wherever possible. One of the most confusing aspects that make living with dementia difficult, are changes to routines.

Audrey came to Edenmore, in March, after living on her own for many years, and her former breakfast routine always included tea, jam and toast. Minimising change was considered essential if her care was to be effective, so she was carefully assessed to be capable of making toast and using a butter knife, without posing a risk to herself or to others. A staff member is always on hand, keeping a respectful distance away, but giving Audrey enough space to feel like her routine is unchanged.

To foster inclusion, “Family members” are encouraged to eat together, sat around family style tables, in a relaxed way. To an observer, anyone watching Audrey’s slight smile as she carries her breakfast plate to her chosen table, her expression may not seem important, but it is not the look of somebody worrying about changes they do not understand. It is the smile of somebody looking forward to nicely browned toast, laden with scarlet raspberry jam.

Edenmore Nursing Home, Ilfracombe are Jumping For Dementia

Two of the marketing team from Edenmore Nursing Home, in Ilfracombe, Devon, have just raised around £1000 for the Alzheimer’s Society in two sponsored tandem parachute jumps. 99% of those being cared for at Edenmore live with dementia and Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia among older adults.

Jessica Caine and Luke Barnett took to the sky on Sunday 5th August, from Dunkeswell Airfield in Devon, and jumped, each attached to their instructors.

Jessica had parachuted once before and said the views were incredible, but it was Luke’s first jump. Prior to taking off, he admitted to being terrified of heights, preferring his feet planted firmly on the ground. Shortly after landing he said “It was all over so quickly, I didn’t have time to be scared”

They jumped from 15,000 feet, any higher would need an oxygen supply, and within seconds, they were plummeting downwards at 120mph, in a tandem jump, which is the easiest of all skydives. It requires only 30 minutes of training before jumping, each strapped to a British Parachute Association Tandem Instructor. Jessica and Luke said that jumping was a truly unforgettable experience, and a fantastic way to raise funds for Alzheimer’s Society

They raised enough money to pay for 2 years’ worth of clinical trial drugs to search for an effective treatment for vascular dementia. Speaking afterwards, they said the day was a total success for both Edenmore Nursing Home, and for Alzheimer’s Society.

Jerry Short, Evolve Care Group

3 Surprising Parachuting Facts

  • There is a sport called Banzai Skydiving. You throw the parachute out of the airplane first and then jump out after it and put it on whilst freefalling. The world-record wait before jumping out is 50 seconds!
  • Afraid of flying, Muhammad Ali spent his first flight praying with a parachute strapped to his back. He was heading to Rome
  • In the 1940s the Idaho Fish and Game Dept relocated beavers into the wilderness by dropping them out of airplanes with parachutes
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