Pumpkin spook-tacular illuminates Lanarkshire care homes creativity and compassion

Residents and staff across Lanarkshire’s care homes have carved out a truly spook-tacular Hallowe’en – shining a light on creativity and compassion.

Going green with this pumpkin

Various care homes across South and North Lanarkshire celebrated the spooky holiday, in line with all safety guidance, with a series of events.

These included McClymont House in Lanark, David Walker Gardens in Rutherglen and Parksprings care home in Motherwell.

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The latter home reflected the overall spirit of the fiendish festivities as residents had spent days preparing pumpkins, with witches, monsters and bats brilliantly carved into the ghoulish gallery.

A witch design for this pumpkin

“It’s well publicised that COVID-19 posed very real challenges for care homes over the last year or so.

"Parksprings has been no different,” explained the home’s activities coordinator, Rosie Brennan.

“But events like this show the unique bond between fellow residents and staff – and put the mutual support into sharp focus.

"Staff are regularly encouraged and take comfort from the kind words and actions of those in our care. Compassion is very much a two-way street.

Just one of the many pumpkins created by the homes.

“The Hallowe’en season has provided the home a chance celebrate those links - and add a heady dose of creativity into the potent mix!”

Lanarkshire’s multiagency Care Home Staff Wellbeing Group said that sentiment was reflective of similar events across the care home sector.

The group is made up of representatives from care homes themselves, North and South Lanarkshire Health and Social Care Partnerships, NHS Lanarkshire and Scottish Care.

Its aim is to ensure staff are supported, from simple wellbeing provision to those who require mental health assessment and intervention.

Another spooky offering.

Dr Susan Ross, consultant clinical psychologist and co-chair of the group, said: “First and foremost our deepest sympathies and condolences are with all those who have lost loved ones to COVID-19.

“We also know the impact of COVID continues to be deeply felt by our colleagues working in the front line of care homes too."

Dr Ross added: “We have a range of supports in place for care home staff if they need it.

“But we also know staff being there for each other has been – and is – very effective and powerful.

"That sentiment also applies to the support the residents provide each other and the staff, as Rosie has outlined.

“Events like this can only consolidate these really important human bonds.

“On behalf of the wellbeing group I’d also like to offer my congratulations to all involved for their frighteningly brilliant carving talents!”

In September last year, a number of staff working alongside Lanarkshire’s care homes decided to form a staff wellbeing group, aiming to understand the unique challenges this workforce were facing, and tailor supports that would be available to all care home staff, regardless or role or employer/owner.

The group is made up of representatives of from North and South Lanarkshire HSCPs, NHS Lanarkshire, Scottish Care and, most importantly, members of the front line care home workforce themselves.

The aim is to ensure staff are supported, from simple wellbeing provision to those who require mental health assessment and intervention.

Care home staff completed a survey in September 2020 (which received around 500 responses) which helped understand how they were doing, what supports they valued the most and, crucially, where the gaps were.

Staff said that the support they access and value the most is from each other.

The group aims to support them to continue to do that, sharing ideas and ensuring they have access to information and resources.

It’s also important that staff know where to reach out to for help when it’s needed.

There is a range of supports in place for care home staff if they need it.

Help and support information and signposting were shared.

The group established a single point of contact telephone line for staff to seek signposting information about wellbeing and mental health support. The dedicated line is staffed Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm.

Members of the group also offer individual and team support to staff when this is needed – this is often a listening ear following difficult events, and guidance or suggestions for what supports might be most helpful to support staff through challenging times.

The group says Ii’s really important it keeps a two-way dialogue with care home staff.

If any member of the care home workforce would like to join the wellbeing group, or share their thoughts, please get in touch.

The group is keen to hear the things that are tricky for staff collectively and individually and to make sense of what they have faced in the past 16 months.