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177 Society: Care and community


A caring home from home


The residents at The Old Vicarage retirement home in Dorset have plenty of say about how they live and are looked after


aren’t allowed in their bedrooms during the day,” says Sinnott, founder of Te Old Vicarage retirement home in Leigh Sherborne, Dorset. “We’re not like that at all. Here, your room is your home.” For Sinnott, residential care is about creating “a home from


A


home”. Every new resident has a “biography” created, enabling each of the 64 staff to know their interests and life history. Residents get to stay in a comfortable bedroom. Tey play croquet and eat meals that are cooked using local ingredients. Even pets are welcome at the 40-bedroom Old Vicarage—indeed, labrador Rex and dachshund Toggle are very much part of the community. So inclusive is the approach that residents are even invited


to attend staff-recruitment interviews. Tis is all central to Sinnott’s aims of making the people who live at the home feel valued and of maintaining the highest standards. “We treat people as individuals and match people’s lifestyles,” she says.


Happy staff, happy residents Sinnott values every member of her staff, frequently nominating them for awards and supporting them with their personal and professional development plans. She believes that skilled, confident and happy staff are best equipped to provide a high standard of care and a relaxed and homely atmosphere for the residents. Te Old Vicarage also supports a grow-your-own approach to workforce success. Sinnott seldom seeks out the best qualified


nnie Sinnott has always fought against institutionalising people. “Tere are some residential places where people


“We try our best to ensure that people carry on the lives they lived before they came here”


and experienced staff but instead looks to recruit young people and unlock their potential through quality training, development and mentoring. Her current manager Natalie Adams joined the home as a 16-year-old school leaver, working her way up to become one of the youngest registered managers in the country at the age of 22. Now, seven years and two children later, Adams has seen the home through several more changes and significant development. Sinnott is also delighted if staff wish to move on to further their careers, with many going on to university or nurse training.


Hands-on attitude Sinnott and her husband, Ian, set up Te Old Vicarage in 1984. By 2007, her commitment to social care was recognised with an MBE. “I’ve always had a hands-on approach,” says the former district nurse and midwife. “We are part of the local community, so maintaining a good reputation is important to me. I want relatives to walk out thinking ‘Annie and her staff will give them the best care’. We try our best to ensure that people carry on the lives they lived before they came here.” Te home’s founders are rightly proud of its scenic gardens.


What was once an old paddock filled with couch grass has been transformed with the assistance and advice of residents, who helped plant a garden with more than 200 David Austin roses, as well as 5,000 bulbs including hyacinth and alliums. It won the home a Best Use of Outdoor Space award from the National Activities Providers Association, whose judges said the garden is “clearly owned and led by the residents” and “gave immense enjoyment and reward”. Te home’s attention to personal care is no better illustrated


than by the menu cards filled in by its residents—they can even request toast with the crust on or off. “It’s why Te Old Vicarage is more than just a care home,” says Sinnott. “It’s a caring home. And a home from home.” — www.theoldvicarage-leigh.co.uk


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