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Beating the final taboo

Olive is fondly known as the singer, and her voice can be heard accompanying strains of big band music as we walk through the lounge.   For me, sounds from the 1930s set the scene for a nursing home but that clichéd view is swept away when manager Ewa Kujawa observes that Olive is a woman of catholic taste: sometimes the music is rock and roll.   For others, it is the behaviour of the home’s two resident love birds that is attracting attention.   “Look, he’s feeding her,” said one lady, chiding the female for “taking advantage of him”.   Meanwhile, the wife of one resident pops into the kitchen and makes tea for others as well her husband.   There is an easy bond between staff, residents and their families which you can sense when you walk in.   In fact, the biggest compliment to Ewa and her team is that the atmosphere is one of simple, but far from mundane, family life. Eversley’s residents are being supported with a range of conditions from advanced cancer and Parkinson’s disease to late- stage dementia.   However, there is a reassuring feeling of serenity and positivity that embraces everyone in the home.   Ewa said: “We don’t treat death and dying as a taboo. Before clients come I have chatted with their family and explain our philosophy of care.   “We celebrate life here and count it by the minutes, hours and days.   “We don’t make big plans that are unrealistic. We are honest but happy for every minute of our residents’ lives.”   Eversley’s focus has been on end of life care for the past five years and the passion and expertise of its staff has just been ecognised with the awarding of Gold Standards Framework beacon status.   The home, close to Yarmouth seafront, scored a maximum 50 points out of 50 in its assessment and is one of only four across the region to achieve beacon status for the quality hallmark award in end of life care.   The assessment covers everything from anticipating people’s changing needs to providing the right support for the whole family.   Ewa said: “It is about providing the best possible quality of life for people right up to their death and then continuing our support to the family.   “We do everything to ensure that people can spend their last days surrounded by their family and people who know them. And to make that happen we work with all the professionals, including GPs, as a multi- disciplinary team.”   The son of a woman who had died that week spent the precious last hours with his mother and was made welcome at the home, eating alongside staff.   Ewa said: “We talk honestly to relatives about changes that can happen to their loved one, and what they can expect from us in both support for their loved one and themselves.”   Typically, the son who had lost his mother popped back the same week for a cup of tea and chat with staff.     Author: Stephen Pullinger Source: Lets Talk Magazine


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