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Our year of achievement

It was the job offer I never expected. In early March 2023, Parklands’ MD Ron Taylor called to offer me a transfer from Grantown to Keith. “We’re taking over the management of a home in Keith. The owners have just gone into administration. I know it’s short notice, but we need to help if we can.”

I’ve worked for Parklands for over a decade in a variety of roles and locations, but I was nervous about the prospect of taking charge of an existing care home with an already established team.

I was being asked to run a home that our company didn’t own - at that stage, our role was simply to manage the home on behalf of the administrators - and follow very different managerial procedures and systems.

It was a new experience for me and for my colleagues in Cullen, where Parklands had also taken over the management of Wakefield House.

I arrived at Weston View on a snowy day in March in the midst of a Covid outbreak. Initially, my focus was on dealing with the outbreak and learning how the previous company ran things. I needed to figure out their methods so I could smoothly transition Weston View into a fully operational Parklands home.

I am a very systematic, organised person, so my first priority was to ensure that the care provided to the residents was not compromised during the period of transition. I also had to get to know 40 new residents and their families and reassure them that Parklands had their best interests at heart.

At Parklands, we use digital technology to update care records in real time. At Weston View, everything was logged on paper, so we began the painstaking – but necessary – process of transferring the paper-based care records from the previous operator onto our electronic systems.

This was a mammoth task lasting several months but, fortunately, I was supported by the staff team who knew their residents very well.

This was a turning point, I felt, marking the start of a new relationship based on trust. The care team saw that we listened to them all, took on board their views and valued their expertise.

When I arrived, the staff were in a quite despondent mood, not surprising given the fluid situation. Nobody had seen the process of administration coming. They didn’t know if they still had jobs. They also had to undergo a huge transition, suddenly working with a new operator with its own set of standards and values.

Identifying the permanent staffing team and managing the rota proved tricky at first because of the paper-based systems in place. Using our new electronic systems, staff can now easily access their rotas. It might sound like a minor detail, but it gives our employees greater certainty and allows them to plan their home life more effectively. We firmly belief in a work-life balance.

One of the reasons the previous company went into administration was because of high agency costs. From day one, we were determined to reduce the home’s reliance on agency workers. This means we can invest more in our own people and ensures continuity of care for residents.  

Weston View is home to 40 residents and we want it to look its best. Decluttering the home proved a big task. We filled 18 skips and, at times, I felt that I was a property development manager!

But now we have a beautiful, newly decorated home with new carpets throughout, a new lounge and dining rooms and a medication room fit for purpose. Seeing the end results of our labour has given everyone a sense of pride in the home.

There are more ambitious plans to come, but changing the fabric of the building is only part of the challenge. A care home is only as good as the people who work in it and the values they espouse. Parklands is proud of its four key values – respect and trust, professionalism, working together and a good place to work. Through supervision and training events, we’ve worked hard to ensure that all staff live and breathe those values.

Communication has been a key factor in how we have been able to turn the home around - being honest, having regular meetings, acting on queries, requests, and information, and the recognition that every role at Weston View is equal in importance.

Our latest Care Inspectorate report suggests we’ve made tremendous progress embedding our values.

In February, the Care Inspectorate carried out a routine inspection at Weston View, grading us on five key criteria: support for residents' wellbeing, quality of leadership, performance of the staff team, the home’s setting, and the effectiveness of care and support planning.

It was our first inspection since the transition to Parklands, and I couldn’t be more delighted with the outcome - in three categories, Weston View was graded 5 (very good); and grade 4 (good) in two others. These grades are a testament to the hard work and dedication of everyone at Weston View and represent a quite dramatic turnaround. To put this report into context, Weston View was previously rated 3 (adequate) for leadership, whereas today it is rated 5.

In my over 10 years at Parklands, I have never seen such a transformation. It shows that by investing in and developing senior staff and giving them the autonomy to lead, we have been able to unlock their full potential.

I feel very humbled that in my 38th year of working in the NHS and social care, I have the privilege to lead such a dedicated, professional team and that we have fostered a learning environment that allows staff to develop their skills, learn, reflect and thrive professionally.

Every member of the Weston View team should be proud of the Care Inspectorate report and see it as recognition of their hard work. After a difficult period of transition and uncertainty, it means we can all move forward together knowing that we have the skills, knowledge and experience to deliver the best outcomes for our residents.

In a career spanning four decades, I thought I’d seen it all. The past year has been one of most challenging, but rewarding, of my career. There have been tears of laughter and tears of frustration but, in the end, we can be proud of what we have achieved together through teamwork.  

Shona Conlin, Manager, Weston View