5 Minutes with April Dobson from Hallmark Care Homes
We spoke to April Dobson who is the Head of Dementia at NDAA member the Hallmark Care Homes on the work they are carrying out, what that is focussed on and our own Seldom Seen and Heard Groups campaign. Hallmark Care Homes, based in Billericay, Essex have 18 residential, nursing and dementia homes across England and South Wales.
1. Can you tell us about Hallmark Care Homes
Hallmark Care Homes, based in Billericay, Essex have 18 residential, nursing and dementia homes across England and South Wales. We have made a name for ourselves in the care sector being recognised for our industry-leading facilities, excellent relationship-centred care and being a leading, financially-stable provider. All of our care homes have a ‘Good’ or an ‘Outstanding’ CQC/CSSIW rating and we have won over 80 awards in the last 21 years as a testament to our great care provision.
2. What does your role involve?
My role is to support our teams to deliver excellent relationship-centred dementia care. I have a national remit which means I get to see our dementia strategy working in practice in all of our services. I am constantly inspired by the innovative, creative and caring approach of our team members to our residents and their families and friends.
3. Can you tell us about how your career to date and how that has led you to your current role?
My career path has certainly not taken a traditional route! From working as a police officer in the east end of London, nursing, medical sales, housing management for older people, and various roles developing and implementing dementia strategies within organisations, I was privileged to be offered my current role of head of dementia at Hallmark Care Homes. Frankly, it’s my dream job, and surprisingly, given my background, the one where I feel I can make the most difference.
4. Our annual report is being developed at the moment which will look at member action plans for 2019, what future work are you planning in regards to dementia?
During 2019 we’re planning to develop our dementia strategy further and are currently exploring a number of things including the use of a Montessori approach for frailty and dementia and a programme of intergenerational activities. We also plan to run a dementia coaching programme for some of our team members who work directly with people living with dementia in our services – this is based on the FITS into practice (Focussed Intervention training & support) model developed by the Association for Dementia Studies at Worcester University. I firmly believe that this coaching programme will help our teams to achieve excellence in dementia care.
5. One of our recent campaigns has been around seldom heard groups of people with dementia which includes LGBT+, BAME communities, young onset dementia, learning disabilities, prisons and rural communities. Are there ways you think the care home industry could look to work with these different groups?
I believe that we have much to be proud of in the care home industry in terms of the progress that’s been made in creating enabling environments and focussing on the individual living with dementia. There really aren’t many scenarios that those working in frontline care roles haven’t come across and if we can find ways to share that knowledge and experience it can only be of benefit to everyone. I also think we have a lot to learn in return, therefore care homes should be encouraged to be more outward looking and make links with a diverse range of groups in local communities.
6. Tell us something interesting about yourself.
Hmmmm …..totally unrelated – I once worked in Japan teaching people how to make teddy bears!