Our services operate within - and are supported by - a socially responsible independent sector framework. We are committed to supporting research, to investing in social initiatives and charitable organisations which support wellbeing, to developing skilled clinicians and carers and to managing all our care settings in an environmentally responsible way.
The Care UK Wellbeing Foundation - investing in partnerships and research
As our services have grown, we have increasingly recognised both the roles that community initiatives and charities can make in improving wellbeing and the work that our growing number of colleagues initiate and undertake in their own communities.
The launch of the Care UK Wellbeing Foundation at the beginning of 2014 strengthened our investment in both national and local initiatives, and in the learning which they bring back to care services themselves.
The Foundation’s initial focus is on promoting wellbeing through the arts. We are investing more than £100,000 in charitable projects which promote wellbeing through the arts, structured as three tranches to ensure a balance between national, local and research based projects.
10 percent will go towards research that will benefit the health and wellbeing of the most vulnerable in society. We know that research helps to identify where resources are best focused to benefit this section of the population.
For example, in 2014 we launched a project to establish the positive effects of music therapy on our care home residents, particularly those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. We’re supporting a partnership with one of the UK’s leading chamber orchestras, Manchester Camerata, to carry out a pilot scheme of the project, called Music in Mind. The project was initially developed with residents and colleagues at Station House care home in Cheshire but we'll be using our findings to take practical steps across our organisation to improve the wellbeing of people living with dementia.
Each year 60 percent of the Foundation’s funds will support a national charity that relates to our chosen focus. The Foundation’s care experts, drawn from across the specialisms within Care UK, select a small number of candidate charities, then care home managers, hospital directors, mental health specialists, homecare managers and other care experts from across our organisations make a final decision on the award of funding.
In 2014 the Foundation supported Nordoff Robbins, the national music therapy charity, enabling it to undertake more than 1,500 individual music therapy sessions with a diverse range of clients, including supporting those living with a form of dementia.
Finally, 30 percent or our annual investment will go to small charities and community groups, and our colleagues and members of the public will be able to apply for funds for good causes in their area whose activities support our theme. Our care experts will decide on the most deserving causes and the Foundation will provide up to £2,000 to each group to help them with their activities. Our colleagues across the range of Care UK health and social care services already raise thousands of pounds for good causes every year, and we support their efforts by matching the funds raised.
Our commitment to a new generation of clinicians
We employ an exceptional range of clinical professionals. Contributing to the training of tomorrow’s clinicians by offering work placements to students is one way we can invest in the future wellbeing of the communities we serve.
Our Greater Manchester NHS Clinical Assessment and Treatment Service (GM CATS), provides regular work placements to healthcare students at the University of Manchester, University of Salford and Manchester Metropolitan University.
GM CATS consists of mobile clinics which travel between seven sites around Greater Manchester, typically spending four or five days at each.
It is unusual for independent healthcare companies to offer placements but we have pioneered this initiative since 2012 as a way of investing in the clinical students of the future.
When the scheme started, GM CATS took student nurses for six-week minimum placements but such was the popularity of the placements that the scope has spread and the scheme is now open to student physiotherapists, podiatrists and, most recently, audiologists.
The universities tell us that our service is perfect for students because it offers such a wide variety of skills and our team includes experienced specialists in a range of areas, including urology, ear, nose and throat, gynaecology, musculoskeletal, minor surgery, gastroenterology and endoscopy.
Our onsite diagnostics, which include MRI, x-ray, ultrasound and CT scanning, mean that just as patients can often see a consultant and have any diagnostic tests required in the same appointment, students are also able to see and follow the whole patient experience.
We support our own clinicians to attend clinical tutor courses, funded by GM CATS, in advance of offering students their placements.
We have also invested in developing the skills of social care specialists, using our expertise in dementia care to help students better understand the condition and how to support those living with it. Students at the University of Birmingham’s College of Medicine are among those to have benefited from receiving our pioneering experiential training at their summer school. The training, which has been rolled out across our homes, gives participants insights into how difficult ordinary tasks can be for someone with dementia.
Managing the environmental impact of our care settings
We already meet all reporting and submission requirements set out under the Environment Agency’s CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme, and have made appropriate carbon allowances based on our gas and electricity usage.
However, in 2013 we announced Project Green - an ambitious environmental commitment which covers the whole of our property portfolio, targeting a 10 percent reduction in carbon emissions and the Europe-wide target of recycling 50 percent of our general waste.
Reducing our carbon footprint is not an easy challenge as, by the very nature of care homes and clinical services, our properties are net consumers of energy resources. We are using a three-tier approach. The first, and in many ways the most important, is our people – our teams, service users, patients and residents. By educating everyone in our services about the importance of reducing, reusing and recycling, we are making a sustainable start to day-to-day environmental responsibility.
Trained advisers visit our residential homes to explain how our carbon footprint can be reduced. They are recruiting Eco Ambassadors among both colleagues and residents to act as drivers for change, questioning how things are done and, challenging people to improve their green habits.
The second tier focuses on process and looks at some of the more technical issues around how we run our buildings, such as building in seasonal flexibility to heating and lighting.
The final tier is technology, where we are making our largest financial commitment. This will include a project to move to LED lighting across the whole portfolio, the installation of new-generation, fuel-efficient boilers, electrical control systems on heaters and the use of solar panels on roofs where possible.
Our environmental management also reflects our commitment to the safety of our residents, service users and our own colleagues which has taken us above and beyond regulations – for instance, we have included the installation of automatic fire sprinklers to BS 9521 in newly-built residential and nursing homes in Suffolk.