“We aim to deliver an outstanding service”

Chamberlain Court is Tunbridge Wells’ leading care home. To discover what makes it such a special place we caught up with its General Manager Judy Heathfield-Eliott. Judy has worked at Chamberlain Court, which is part of the Hallmark Care Homes family, for four years. Here she reveals what she loves about working in the care industry and what her managerial role entails…


Let’s start with you telling us briefly about Chamberlain Court and the type of care it offers…

Our home is located on Mount Ephraim and we are proud to have a caring and committed team, who provide industry-leading residential, nursing and dementia care. The home has been rated by ‘Good’ by the Care Quality Commission and it has a range of facilities that enable residents to thrive, such as our homely café, outdoor activity room, and state-of-the-art cinema. We are also very fortunate to be surrounded by some beautiful landscaped gardens at the home, which our residents make use of all year round.


Why have you ensured that essential home comforts are in place at Chamberlain Court?

Our facilities allow residents to carry on enjoying the everyday routines they cherish, including having their weekly hair and nail appointments at our luxurious salon and catching up with friends in the vibrant café. Our dining rooms also have open kitchen areas to enable residents to help with the preparation of meals if they wish to, and our celebrations room enables residents to still be a part of events, from birthdays and anniversaries to a family reunion.


What does your role of General Manager at this very special place entail?

The role is primarily to lead the team to deliver an outstanding service to our residents. For me, that is about knowing all the residents, what their likes and dislikes are and how to match this with the team. Creating a happy environment is all about the people as well as the surroundings and ensuring that we all work together to support the residents to live their best lives. The role ensures the smooth running of the home and making sure everyone is safe. We spend a lot of time at work and it needs to be fun – fun for the team and the residents. The families and friends are a huge part of the success of our home and are included at all opportunities. My role is to ensure the outstanding delivery of all services, like a hotel but with care. The residents have the opportunities to be involved in the day-to-day running of Chamberlain Court as ultimately this is their home. Legislation dictates much of the role, and this is ever changing so flexibility and leading change is vital.


What should people know before moving into care?

Residents and their families should know all of their options before transitioning into care, and should look at multiple homes to find the best fit for them. It’s always good to do this to ensure you pick the home that is right for you. Ideally, they will know what they want from living in a care home, to have their needs met of course, but to know how you would like your life to be, what you want to do will help you to make choices when you get there.


What do you think the most common misconception of care is?

The biggest one is that people think care homes are only for when people can’t live on their own anymore. Whereas I think it’s more accurate nowadays to say that care homes are lifestyle choices, and another way of living independently with fewer worries for residents. Our Lifestyle Team puts together a varied weekly Activities Programme for our residents to enjoy and it is at these gatherings that new friendships are formed, which is lovely to see.


The transition to care can be hard for residents, so how does Chamberlain Court help with this?

Several things are difficult for those moving into a care home, including leaving pets. At Chamberlain Court, we allow residents to bring their pets with them to ease their transition into care and we are already in talks with one future resident talking to us about moving in with her cat. If it’s not possible to bring a pet for whatever reason, they can at least be regular visitors.

Some residents may also be worried about leaving their personal belongings behind. We encourage people to personalise their room when they move in to lessen the impact this can have on them. And when it comes to missing their friends, here at Chamberlain Court we can support by encouraging and welcoming visitors or organising for a resident to visit their friends in their old community.

When transitioning into care, people may feel they are losing control over their life. This is one very close to my heart and is easily overcome by encouraging and supporting the person to keep control of everything they are capable of controlling both day-to-day and more complex decisions.


What do you think is the best aspect of Chamberlain Court?

Our team are very experienced and extremely well qualified. They are also determined to ensure that we provide excellent standards of care to all our residents. We take very seriously the company charter and values and work to them on a daily basis. Also – it goes without saying, our fabulous residents!


What is your favourite part of your role?

I love my job! I enjoy meeting new people and getting to know the residents and their families. I also very much enjoy people management and developing multi-skilled teams. I’m always up for a challenge, so bringing team members on is something I look forward to. I’m happy to be here – having a job you love means it is never a chore.


Does Chamberlain Court work with the local community?

Absolutely. We have built solid and loyal relationships with several organisations. For example, Age UK Tunbridge Wells hold their monthly Memory Café with us on the third Thursday of each month. This fantastic event offers support for both the person living with dementia and their carers. We host a monthly support group for Parkinson’s UK and we also recently launched a Cinema Club.

In terms of our intergenerational links, every Tuesday morning we host Songs & Smiles where children aged between 0 and 4 years sing and play games with our residents. This is organised through the national charity The Together Project. We also work very closely with Rose Hill Primary School here in Tunbridge Wells and the children have formed wonderful relationships with our residents.

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