Colston celebrates his 90th Birthday and 72 years in the Holsworthy Brass Band

William Issac enjoys his band reunion

William Issac, known as Colston, recently celebrated his 90th birthday at Hatherleigh Nursing Home and was joined for a performance by the Holsworthy Brass band, whom Colston was a valued cornet player with for 72 years!

Colston joined the band in 1945 and devotedly played with them until October 2017. This is an impressive feat and inspired further questions; hence my eagerness to sit with Colston and hear all his fascinating stories.

He fondly recalled how he started out on his musical journey when his father was approached by the president of the band, asking if Colston would like to learn the cornet. He had already mastered the piano, therefore it was evident Colston had a musical ear. Colston happily recalls that his response was ‘I’ll give it a go!’ and part of the band’s history was made.

Colston truly enjoys reminiscing back to his band days, when they would play at village fetes and local music events even Hatherleigh Carnival in its’ heyday. It actually brought a tear to his eye when he thought back to all the fun times with his bandmates over the years. His excitement shines through, especially when telling stories of looking out into the audience and seeing the crowd’s reaction to their music.

His final performance with the band was in late 2017 at the glorious age of 88 years old, or as Colston put it, ‘88 years young!’ Although due to his health he is no longer able to play, music remains central to his heart, “what’s life without music!”

When I asked Colston if he had a favourite song to listen to or play, he simply replied “I just love all of them, they’re all brilliant!” His enthusiasm and fondness for music is contagious and you can’t help but smile along with him.

The band are consistently a resounding success at Hatherleigh, visiting often, with many family members enjoying their music. It is always a happy, emotional occasion for Colston and his family when the band visits. Memories which will be remembered for a long time to come.

Happy 90th Birthday Colston!

Being a Volunteer – Jim Brereton one of the last serving members of the National Service

Jim Brereton and wife Ann

Jim Brereton has been volunteering at Hatherleigh Nursing Home for just over 3 years now.  He started volunteering when his wonderful wife Ann came to live at the Home on the 2nd October 2012.  He would visit most days and would engage with all the family members (visiting relatives and their dogs also!)

In 2015, Ann very sadly passed away and is still to this day missed dearly.  Jim however has kept her memory alive by whole heartedly continuing with his volunteering at the Home and has been visiting 2-3 times a week ever since to carry on with bingo, quizzes, bowls to name but a few.

The rapport that Jim has built with family members over the years is invaluable, and it isn’t just the family members that he makes smile, the team members welcome his warmth and contagious personality.  When asked if Jim enjoys volunteering, he enthusiastically replied “Ann was cared for so well here at Hatherleigh and I just love visiting and entertaining others – the family members enjoy it and so do I ... I’ll do it as long as they’ll have me!’’

On Thursday 8th November, Jim lead a special Remembrance Day celebration as his Grandfather survived World War I, and Jim himself was one of the last serving members of the National Service. After giving a brief synopsis of why the war started, helped with interjections from family members, he showed the group the medals his Grandfather won. They then acknowledged the sacrifice soldiers made and were all animated in sharing their personal memories of the war and life during that period.  Jim rounded off his memoirs by a reading of the renowned poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ by John Mcrae, which appeared to resonate with the family members, who all bowed their heads in respect.

The afternoon then ended on a lighter note with tea and biscuits - a happy tradition at Hatherleigh Nursing Home loved by all.

Jims' Grandfather's Medals
Jims' Grandfather's Medals

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

Hatherleigh Nursing Home are Jumping For Dementia

Two of the marketing team from Hatherleigh Nursing Home, in Hawthorn Park, Devon, have just raised around £1000 for the Alzheimer’s Society in two sponsored  parachute jumps. 65% of those being cared for at Hatherleigh 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 require oxygen tanks, 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 their chosen charity.

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 Hatherleigh 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

Mothering Sunday

Happy Mother’s Day to everyone who recently celebrated Mothering Sunday!
We had a wonderful day here at Hatherleigh Nursing Home. We had so many beautiful bunches of flowers delivered from friends and family that perhaps live further away or that just wanted to send something extra special – we had enough to open up as a local florist!
Everyone enjoyed a delicious Sunday Roast, and so many relatives and friends visited and celebrated with us. Our whole home was full of love!
Mum’s are so special, and it was a fabulous day celebrating them, together here at Hatherleigh Nursing Home.

Music Therapy at Hatherleigh Nursing Home!

Hatherleigh Nursing Home have been experimenting with different types of music and creative ways to enjoy them this month. In other nursing homes, you might find everyone sat around in a circle listening to the same track, but family members at Hatherleigh can enjoy time together whilst all listening to their own favourites, if they’d like to.
Jan Ramirez, Activities Coordinator at Hatherleigh Nursing Home, told us: “we’ve been really enjoying using music therapy here at Hatherleigh recently. Whilst music can bring so many benefits, for some of our family members, loud, live music can be difficult. With our introduction of personal MP3 players with headphones and CD players in bedrooms, we’re all able to join in and listen to our favourite music, whilst still spending time together.”
Jan continued: “We all know that feeling when a song starts up and transports us back to a particular time and puts a smile on our face; it’s been wonderful to see the positive impact that this project has had!”

Hatherleigh Nursing Home cares for individuals with residential and nursing needs. If you would like to find out more about living or working at Hatherleigh please call 01837 810 602 or email

Devon MP praises local care home

Hatherleigh Nursing Home, a specialist dementia nursing and residential care provider close to the Central Devon town of Okehampton, has been commended by local MP Mel Stride for creating their own solution to the care funding crisis.
The group that supports the home, Evolve Care Group, have set up a subsidy fund of £100,000 in order to help local people afford the care they need and deserve.
Mel heard all about this new fund on his recent visit to the nursing home, when he also got a chance to meet lots of family members living there and learn about the unique Household Model of Care that is implemented at Hatherleigh Nursing Home.
Mel told us: “It was lovely to be able to meet some of the people living at Hatherleigh Nursing Home and I’ve heard nothing but great things from them, about their life there. The current crisis in funding for social care is a matter that urgently needs addressing and it’s brilliant to see that the team at Hatherleigh are doing their bit to help ease the costs of care.”
Hatherleigh Nursing Home’s Home Manager Lorna Hunter commented that: “We all enjoyed welcoming Mel to our home and telling him more about the care we provide. Our Household Model of Care means that we can support individuals to continue living their life with as much dignity, independence and happiness as possible. We truly are a family and if you come and live with us, this should genuinely feel like your home.”

If you would like to find out more about the support that Hatherleigh Nursing Home can provide, you can get in touch with them on 01837 810 602 or email

Eggs, Flour and Milk with a Pinch of Hatherleigh

The community once again visited Hatherleigh Nursing Home as it celebrated Pancake Day and the start of lent. Visitors and those who live in the home had the opportunity to make and flip their very own pancakes, before adding their own unique toppings.

Lorna Hunter, Manager at Hathleigh Nursing Home, said “Everyone had great fun making their own pancakes. The batter making was a bit messy but fun none the less! There were a few unusual toppings choices, but all plates went back clean!”

Those who live and work at Hatherleigh Nursing Home are always keen to invite their neighbours into their newly redecorated homes for great events like these. Lorna said “We also challenged those who attended to give some things up for lent. We can’t wait to hear people’s progress.”

Frome Nursing Home supports various nursing and residential needs and is currently recruiting nurses and care workers from the community to join its award winning team.

Hatherleigh Nursing Home currently also has room to expand its family. If you’d like to find out more about Hatherleigh Nursing Home, please call 01837 810 602 or email

Hatherleigh Nursing Home Enables Individuals to Reach their Goals

As part of International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the UN has been considering how to build a more inclusive world for those with disabilities. Hatherleigh Nursing Home has been continuing to think about the smaller picture, by considering what individuals’ goals for life are and how best to support and enable them to reach those goals.

The award-winning home is also attempting to highlight how no-one really has a disability since you can do anything if you put your mind to it. Some people are just differently abled, and therefore may just need some help to achieve their goals or even do activities.

The pioneering model of care at Hatherleigh Nursing Home means that those living in the home are always being enabled to do what they’d like to be doing. Since many are unable to do it alone, the team are always on hand to help out with any activity individuals would like to be doing. This could be gardening, cooking or even something as simple as doing a puzzle. The choice of activity is totally up to the individual.

Home Manager, Lorna Hunter, said “Having goals, or even desires, in life is so important to a person’s emotional wellbeing. At Hatherleigh Nursing Home we try to be constantly aware of what each and every individual within the home would like to be doing, and then enable them to do so. This means the home is always so busy with different activities. We should never forget individual goals alongside the great work the UN does to ensure equality.”

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