Mental Health Awareness Week 2020: Wellbeing at Hatherleigh Nursing Home

Promoting wellbeing and happiness in our home has always been at the heart of Hatherleigh. This Mental Health Awareness Week we are highlighting the importance of focusing on the wellbeing of not only those who live in the home, but also of our teams who devote themselves to our family members.

Often at Hatherleigh Nursing Home, our team put their feelings aside if it means they can best support our family members on their later life and dementia journeys to feel safe, happy, and loved. Whilst we are proud of the care that all of our “one team” provides for those in their care, it is equally as important that they themselves are being taken care of. Whether that is talking to a fellow team member or mentor within the home or our Wellbeing Team, everyone at the home has someone or somewhere they can turn to when in need.

The Wellbeing Team

As well as the support and mentorship offered within the home, Hatherleigh Nursing home also offer support by our remotely based Wellbeing Team. For them, there is never a burden too heavy to share, and they are always at the end of the line, whatever the day or time, to listen and to care. They offer both support on best practice and emotional wellbeing for all team members. You are only ever a call or a message away.

Going Live

Although we are still unable to meet for face to face connections at our monthly group training sessions, the leadership team have been hosting online sessions to avoid anyone feeling disconnected or unsupported. Every Friday at 9pm, they have been going Facebook Live with all our teams joining for interactive sessions. There has been reassuring, educating, supporting, laughing, and connecting with one another. Any questions or uncertainties have been addressed with openness and honesty, leaving no-one in any doubt. Allowing us as individuals to feel whole and together as a team once more.

The Wellbeing Guide

Hatherleigh Nursing Home pride ourselves on being an employer that is concerned about your life away from the entrance to our home. Being a member of the Hatherleigh family means we offer you support to you in any area of your life you wish to share with us. Teams are strongly encouraged to dedicate time to supporting themselves and focus on prevention of ill being. A guide to wellbeing has been provided to team members prescribing advice, tips, support, and challenges that promote wellbeing and enable good mental health.


It is important to remember that we are all going through this journey together and that we need to spend some time tending and caring for ourselves. Giving ourselves the love, we deserve! The theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is kindness, so be kind to yourself and reward your life with feelings of hope, positivity, fulfilment, and joy. It really is your worth.

These are just a few ways in which we support our team’s wellbeing and mental health, if you’d like to find out more about what we can offer at Hatherleigh Nursing Home, email: or fill out our online form here and we’ll be in touch with you shortly!

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Mental Health Awareness Week 2020: An Anxious Perspective

I’m not good enough. Why did I do that? I’m wasting your time. What I’ve done is rubbish. I’ve done it wrong. They don’t believe me. Why did I say that? They don’t want me here. What is wrong with me?

Many of us live with a mental health problem.

I live with anxiety. Often my thoughts get stuck on loop and I struggle to break a continuous feeling that I am inadequate in both who I am and what I do. Even as I write this, I do so wondering whether this will be worth the time I’m spending on it.

I’m fortunate in that I work for an employer who recognises the importance of acknowledging that I can suffer from poor mental health and encourages me to be open about it. I am told that the strength of a group relies on the strength of the individuals within. By understanding each other we can work together more effectively to support those who live at our homes.

That encompasses all professional relationships within the home – carer to carer, carer to manager, manager to catering staff. After all, how can we expect to take of others if we cannot look after ourselves. By coming together, we can achieve and sustain the outstanding standards we set ourselves in providing care.

When I started with the Evolve Care Group, I was encouraged to be open and embrace my identity. I must admit that this made me feel somewhat uncomfortable. I didn’t want to present my baggage or air my dirty laundry in full view for all to see. But, by embracing the openness and honesty bred throughout the company I now enjoy a two-way relationship that benefits both I and my employer. This ‘culture of comfortability’ created in my place of work allows for others to recognise when I am struggling and give me either the space or reassurance I need for me to operate to the best of my abilities.

Written by Josh, a team member at Evolve Care Group

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International Women’s Day: Rosemary Henderson, Hatherleigh’s Resident Engineer: The Journey from Sewing Machines to Naval Helicopters

Sunday, 8th March is International Women’s Day; a day to celebrate women’s achievement, raise awareness against bias and promote gender equality. Rosemary Henderson, a member of the Hatherleigh family is one of many amazing women who live at the home, her story is shared below.  

Life for women in the 1950’s was very different to that of the one we know today. Women were largely seen as housewives. Dreams and aspirations of higher education and careers were never realised for many. In the 1960’s this began to change, as the oppressed challenged gender inequalities within society. The resultant was a boom in jobs for young single women and more pursuing education at a higher level.

Introducing Rosemary…

One of these determined and remarkable women who made her career during this time was Hatherleigh Nursing Home family member Rosemary Henderson. Having joined the Royal Navy in her early 20’s, Rosemary worked as an engineer, working on Rolls Royce helicopter engines. 

In an era when sexism was rife and female employment was still relatively low, Rosemary was responsible for keeping Britain’s naval force of helicopters safely in the air!

Based in Gosport, Hampshire during her naval service, while working in her highly skilled and challenging profession, she also met her love and future husband Bill.

Rosemary’s Naval career came to an end when the couple moved back to Bideford, where Rosemary spent most of her life, to raise the first of their two daughter’s Laura.

Sewing beginnings…

She first moved to the town as a child with her family, who ran the local sewing machine business ‘Weeks,’ which supplied local schools and businesses with their machines.

Growing up amongst so many sewing machines during her childhood left a lasting impression on Rosemary who continued to enjoy cross stitch and tapestry as a pastime many years later.

Now, Rosemary has been living at Hatherleigh for almost two years and is living with a dementia. Sadly, she is no longer able to enjoy needlework as she used too, due to the progression of her dementia. Despite this, at the home, magazines, fabric, and other textile materials are always available for Rosemary to connect with.

Having these personal and meaningful occupational items around the home creates an opportunity for positive feelings or memories of previous pastimes enjoyed. These can be sparked at the feel of the cotton in between her fingers or at the sight of a beautifully woven tapestry.

Rosemary Henderson is a loved and valued member of the Hatherleigh family who is respected for her impressive engineering career, challenging of the status quo and aspiring to achieve more than many of her contemporaries.

This International Women’s Day, Hatherleigh Nursing Home honour not only Rosemary, but all the incredible women who call Hatherleigh their home and the continual impact they have on society and on their local community.

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Rosie Jewell

Former Wimbledon player at Hatherleigh Nursing Home

Rosemary Jewell in 1954 competing at Wimbledon.

Wimbledon Tennis Championships recently finished and now that the long queues for strawberries and cream have dissipated, it was exciting to discover that one of the “family members” living at Hatherleigh Nursing Home, 81 year-old Rosie Jewell, was a former tennis player who played in the under eighteens team at the Wimbledon Championships in 1954, getting through to the quarter finals. Jewell is her married name, but in 1954 she was playing under her maiden name, Rosemary Wooller.

Rosie has lived at the 53-bed home near Okehampton for the last two and a half years, and they knew that she played tennis competitively at the highest levels when she was younger as they take time when one moves in to the home to learn everything they can about each family member’s identity / life history.

When she was growing up as an only child and she was home from boarding school in the long summer months, she took up tennis and began to show promise, winning the singles title in her hometown, Colwyn Bay, in 1951 when she was just thirteen. When she was sixteen, she was selected to play in the British under eighteen team in the 1954 Wimbledon Championships, getting through to the quarter finals. She also went on to play for the North Wales County team in 1957 so she must have been a very talented player indeed.

Rosie now lives with dementia, a condition that progressively weakens the recall abilities of everyone that has it. Ashley, Hatherleigh’s Home Manager, said that “although Rosie’s dementia had affected her memory, her love of ball games has stayed strong. When our team members ask her if she’d like to play catch, you can see her face light up instantly with anticipation, her eyes sparkling. Rosie loves playing catch with a softly inflated beach ball.”

For anyone who lives with dementia, games that include hand and eye coordination are excellent and introducing games into the everyday lives of people living in care has been proven to improve their cognitive, social and physical wellbeing.

Ashley continued “Rosie’s hands unerringly caught the ball each time it was thrown to her, her hand and eye coordination presumably honed from her years of tennis playing, and our team were clearly enjoying the game, too.”

The home knows that participating in games keeps our brains active and there are also the physical benefits of the exercise, plus the sense of accomplishment that playing a game can bring. If you visited the home whilst Wimbledon was on, Rosie would definitely have been the one sitting at the front, watching the television closely to ensure the umpires were making all the correct calls, and of course, strawberries and cream served for all.

Jerry Short, Care Writer

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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 Hatherleigh Nursing Home in Hatherleigh, near Okehampton 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 Hatherleigh 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.

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
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