General manager Gareth Richards explains the philosophy behind the new £12m Bupa care home, which has been purpose-built at the Pebble Mill Birmingham site.
People in Britain are living longer than ever before, with life expectancy rising year after year thanks to better lifestyles and medical advances.
The latest figures published in December 2017 by the Office for National Statistics shows there are now 11.8 million people aged 65 or over in the UK. The number of centenarians in the UK now stands at 14,570, a 65% increase over the last decade. Of these, an estimated 800 are aged 105 and over, double that of 2005.
The shift in trends means the demand for care home places will almost double within the next 20 years and also means that provision for the elderly in their later years has to adapt and change. Nowhere is this more evident than in the flagship purpose built £12m Pebble Mill Bupa care home, which has been built on the site of the iconic BBC studios in Edgbaston, Birmingham. Plans for the building began to take shape two years ago, and the 62 bedroom home was completed earlier this year.
Part of Bupa’s “Select” collection, the home will serve the people of Edgbaston and the wider city – and its obvious when stepping into the building and meeting the staff that this is no ordinary care home. For a start, its located within a health care “community”, which includes the highly praised dental hospital and the Circle Private Hospital. Pebble Mill sits at the heart of the Calthorpe Estate, home to the burgeoning health care cluster, and every care has been taken to provide world class facilities as part of the regeneration of Pebble Mill.
The man tasked with overseeing the launch of the care home, and ensuring Bupa’s promise to deliver “healthier, happier lives,” is general manager Gareth Richards.
With a senior business background in retail management before he joined Bupa, Richards brings a wealth of experience to the role, and is very obviously proud of the new building, which will also bring more than 80 jobs to the city. Richards managed sizeable operations in the retail world, and comparisons with his new role are not lost on him.
“Providing a high quality service is all about offering people the best possible choice,” he says. “We provide reassurance to families at a time in their lives when they are making a big decision about the provision of care for their loved one. That reassurance is very important, as people want to know that the standards and service we are providing both meet their needs but also are the right choice for them. They are putting their trust in us to help them arrive at that decision.”
And the care is first rate, with the home offering 24-hour support, accommodation and personal care, offering specialist residential, nursing, day care, convalescence and end of life care, as well as support for those living with dementia.
There are, of course, many considerations to be mulled over when deciding on care provision for elderly people. Amongst those are first impressions, and the brand new Pebble Mill Bupa care home cannot fail to stick in one’s mind. From the feature rooftop terrace looking out over neighbouring Edgbaston, to the landscape garden complete with dining area and its own pizza oven, to the standard of facilities in each of the 62 rooms, to the beauty salon and multi-purpose activities room, every care and attention to detail in terms of quality has been taken.
With 26 nursing rooms, 26 rooms for people living with dementia and ten residential rooms all with en-suite bathrooms, the three storey building is at the cutting edge of latest design. The sparkling kitchen facilities on the top floor look like something straight out of a five star hotel – but Richards is also very focused on the fact that this will be a home in which the residents should feel completely comfortable and relaxed.
“Yes, we offer the very best in every aspect of what we do, but our residents get involved at the outset in making their own mark when they join us. They can add decorations and artworks to their room to make it as personal to them as they want it to be. We also encourage people to make suggestions about what activities they want to take part in, and that will form the basis of many conversations they will have with staff. Our work is focused on stimulation, engagement and communication with our residents.
“The activities we offer and encourage become increasingly important as people get older,” he adds. “We know we get the basics right, its actually all the other little things that set care homes like this apart.”
For example, there is no set structure to each day – if residents want to undertake a certain activity, staff will ensure that they go the extra mile to help. Regular club activities such as watercolour painting and gardening are driven by what the residents want to do. This includes the Big 12, an arrangement whereby each month of the year is themed to a different country, and staff help residents pay a “virtual visit” to countries around the world, tasting its food, and theming individual rooms – all of which helps provoke memories and engagement in the residents, who thoroughly enjoy being involved.
Food at the Pebble Mill care home is excellent, and is an important component for residents and their families when choosing a home. Meals are served in the restaurant or in their rooms if preferred.
“Because choosing a care home is a group decision for the whole family, we encourage people to come in and see for themselves – for instance, stay for Sunday lunch, spend an afternoon with us, meet other residents in a relaxed environment,” says Richards.
“We want people to ask the questions that are bound to be on their minds. Its important to us that they see our residents happy and responsive, that they are alert and interested and that they are encouraged to do the things they want to be doing.”
And that extends to Richard’s staff, who buy into the welcoming ethos of the home. “All our staff have an inherently caring nature,” he says. “They all want to make a difference, be that through nursing needs or through interaction. I’m able to encourage that approach by applying a lot of what I learned in my retail life to Bupa – I’m a problem solver and like to get the very best out of every person who works here.”
Richards talks enthusiastically about the staff going “above and beyond” – and that’s evident in the home too. Each floor of the building is a nod to Pebble Mill – the site famously once owned by the BBC, renowned as being the home of Midlands Today, BBC WM and where programmes such as The Archers, Top Gear and Gardeners World were produced.
Each floor will contain subtle artworks reflecting the TV history of the site. Pebble Mill is a name that will resonate strongly with many of the people who will make their homes here over the years, which seems a fitting way to ensure that everyone living here will be as comfortable as they possibly can be.
Pebble Mill Care Home
0121 667 6169
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