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.
Promoting wellbeing within the community
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 was on promoting wellbeing through the arts. In its first year we invested more than £100,000 in charitable projects, structured as three tranches to ensure a balance between national, local and research based initiatives.
We launched a project with one of the UK’s leading chamber orchestras, Manchester Camerata, to run a pilot scheme called Music in Mind. The aim was to establish the positive effects of music therapy on our care home residents, particularly those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. We also 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.
The foundation has also supported small charities and community groups, with our colleagues and members of the public applying for funds for good causes in their area. Additionally, our colleagues across the range of Care UK health and social care services already raise thousands of pounds for charity every year, and we support their efforts by matching the funds raised.
Visit the Care UK wellbeing foundation website for more information.
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.
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.