Established over 60 years ago, the Best Kept Health and Social Facility was introduced as a category in 1995 to recognise the staff and residents who showcase their dedication and pride in their workplace, or residential care homes, by improving their surroundings.
For the third year in a row River House in Newcastle, County Down, was the winner in the South Eastern Healthcare Trust area, while for the first time in the Northern Healthcare Trust area PCI’s newest home, Trinity House in Garvagh, County Londonderry, took the crown. Harold McCauley House in the Western Healthcare Trust in Omagh, County Tyrone and Aaron House, in Dundonald, County Down, in the South Eastern area, were runners up.
Speaking after the awards ceremony Denise Keagan, PCI’s Head of Older People’s Services, said, “This is an amazing achievement for our residents and staff at all our homes who have made their mark in this year’s awards. We are all especially pleased for River House, who celebrate a hat trick of wins this time round, and for Trinity House, who having opened just under two years ago, have won their first award.
“In each of our homes getting to know our residents and their abilities is so important in order for us to provide person-centred care. No matter how small, each person’s contribution, from planting bulbs to tidying up in the garden, has all helped to make each home standout. It also encourages our residents to stay active, which improves physical and mental well-being. At the same time, it encourages a greater sense of belonging in what is their home, which is also so important.
“All our homes have a Christian ethos and we welcome people from different denominations and none. As Christians, as it has often been said, we are called to demonstrate Jesus’ love for people. This means putting our faith into practical action and simple Christian caring, which we seek to do in all the homes that we manage. It is a powerful social witness of the gospel.
Congratulating the winners, Doreen Muskett, MBE, President of the Northern Ireland Amenity Council said, “As always, the standard of applications received across all three competition categories was extremely high and judges faced a very difficult decision in choosing the overall winner.
“The Best Kept Health and Social Care initiative is a fantastic opportunity for facilities across Northern Ireland to work with service users to have a practical and positive effect on their direct environment.”
PCI’s Council for Social Witness is responsible for the overall management of the denomination’s nursing and residential care homes, along with supported housing schemes for people with a learning disability and those with addictions and former offenders across 16 locations in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Explaining that having won the award three times in a row now, River House would have to bow out of the competition for a year, home manager Stephanie Moore-Archer said, “We are really proud to have won this award again and we'll put the money to another project involving the garden. We are excited for new ideas and will display the award with pride.
“We have a well-kept enclosed garden with a beautiful view of the Mountains of Mourne. It also has easy access for wheelchairs and rotators with a path circling the garden, a fountain and a lovely summer house used by visitors and residents,” she said.
Stephanie also explained that River House, named after the Glenn River, which runs by, has two free range hens. “They have been with us for two years now and they provoke memories of childhood for the many country folk who are with us, especially our residents who have a diagnosis of dementia and respond well to animals.”
For Trinity House, home manager Jayne Bellingham said, “As a newer home we have an ongoing programme for settling in and making it a warm and welcoming place. A home-like environment is of the utmost importance for our residents, who are often anxious about leaving their own homes, and feel more relaxed in comfortable and bright surroundings.
“We were really pleased to have been considered Best Kept Facility in this area, and it has motivated us to continue to provide a high standard of accommodation and care. One of the judges commented on the painting throughout the home, as one of our care assistants, Colette Tannahill, is a really gifted artist and has transformed two areas for us. One has been turned into a street with a painted post office and book shop with bikes and lanterns. The dementia side of the home has been decorated with scenes of wildlife and Cherry Blossom trees,” Jayne explained.
“As a team we are blessed to work for PCI who place such high emphasis in all aspects of our residents’ care, which allows us to be creative in our approach to the delivery of our care and over all service.”
Photos (1) left to right River House manager, Stephanie Moore-Archer, resident Jackie Campbell and Frank McEvoy with Seamus McGoran, Chief Executive, South Eastern Healthcare Trust, Stephen Patton, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager with award sponsors George Best Belfast City Airport, and Doreen Muskett, MBE, President, Northern Ireland Amenity Council (2) Trinity House manager Jane Bellingham, Activity Co-ordinator, Donna Kelso and Trinity House volunteer Norma Lockington.