Partner of the Week - Parklands Care Homes

Parklands was established by Ron Taylor who grew up in Buckie. As a student, he cared for his elderly grandfather. Frustrated at the lack of care facilities for older people, he established Parklands and opened his first care home in the town. He has overseen its growth over nearly three decades, winning a string of awards during this time for the company’s commitment to quality care and people development. Much of the day to day operation is devolved to individual care home managers, allowing Ron and his senior management team to focus on future investment, recruitment, training and development. Ron’s experience as a home carer continues to inform the company’s approach to personalised care. The company’s motto is ‘Our family caring for yours.’

The Covid-19 pandemic has been – and continues to be – the most significant challenge any of us in the care sector have ever experienced. The virus is a particular threat to the care sector and has totally transformed our way of life. At the height of lockdown, relatives were prevented from visiting but, even now, visits are strictly limited. Our residents cannot go out into the community. Our staff are subject to temperature checks when they arrive for their shift and are tested for Covid-19 every week. This is our new normal.

The pressure on staff has been immense, both physically and mentally. As MoW, we hope that we can shine a light on the important work they and others in the care sector carry out, very often behind the scenes and with little fanfare. Our people are our greatest asset and I feel very humbled and privileged to work alongside them. I am immensely proud of them and the great sacrifices they have made to ensure the welfare of our residents. They are the heroes of this pandemic, along with our NHS and other key workers, and their commitment to and passion for their work – and for the people they care for – deserves to be recognised.

We also want to change perceptions that care homes are dull, lifeless places. On the contrary, our homes are full of life, love and enjoyment. Many of our residents get a new lease of life when they join us; they make new friends, develop new hobbies or reawaken old interests. There is no doubt that lockdown has been difficult, but our residents and staff have been extremely resourceful. Over the past few months, we’ve held outdoor music festivals, garden parties, Highland Games events, tennis tournaments, dance parties, fancy dress parties, fitness exercises and played virtual bingo with care homes across the UK. We even opened a pub for residents in Tain and a convenience store for folk in Buckie. Life isn’t what it used to be, but we make every effort to keep our residents happy and engaged. #happycarehome

During the pandemic, there has been a surge of interest from people looking to work in the health and care sector. At Parklands we have seen a huge increase in demand for new vacancies when they arise, a clear indication that more and more people value the work of carers and recognise the career opportunities the sector provides. As we continue to grow, we expect to create around 200 new jobs in the Highlands which is not only good for the economy, but also for those care professionals who want to live and work in the region. We provide flexible working conditions, competitive salaries, full training and support, and career progression. We want to encourage more people in the Highlands to consider a career in the care – whether they’re school leavers or people already in work and looking for a change of direction.

It has been clear for some time that while the number of Covid cases may ebb and flow, the virus is here for some time. On that basis, and with the welfare of our residents and staff uppermost in our minds, Parklands has invested over £100,000 on a new rapid response Covid test programme for residents and staff. The test uses a nasal swab specimen from individuals showing symptoms of Covid, which are then analysed using a portable machine. The technology can provide results within 12 minutes, enabling care staff to quickly implement quarantine procedures in the event of a positive result. The new rapid test system, which has also been procured by the Scottish Government, should be in place at Parklands in early November. It is not a substitute for robust infection prevention and control procedures. Keeping the virus at bay remains our primary objective at all times. However, the ability to test symptomatic residents or staff in real time is a significant step forward and will give peace of mind to residents, families and our hard working staff. http://www.parklandsgroup.com/news-old/rapid-covid-tests

Our new £5.5 million care home in Fortrose is now nearing completion and we hope to welcome our first residents early in the new year. We also have ambitious plans – already approved – to develop a new 59 bed care home in Inverness and hope to begin work in 2021. Inverness will also be the location of our proposed later living village, comprising 11 homes on a site adjacent to our new care home. This concept, a first for Parklands, is designed to act as a bridge between independent living and the care home sector. Residents will be able to access the range of social activities, cleaning, laundry and catering services offered by the care home, while leading otherwise independent lives.

We don’t just invest in bricks and mortar, however. As a company rooted in the north, we believe very much in supporting the communities we serve. In Fortrose, for example, we have partnered with local children’s football team Avoch Rovers to allow them to buy new equipment and kit, and with Fortrose Nursery to enable them to make their community garden more accessible.

We were delighted to be named Best Smaller Care Home Group (<50 homes) in the 2020 national Care Home Awards. It was a huge and unexpected boost for us during what has been such a difficult and unrelenting year. It’s a reflection of the remarkable teamwork that we see every day at Parklands’ eight care homes. No one individual is responsible for providing care for our residents; we are all responsible – from the cooks to the cleaners to the carers. This award is a tribute to their hard work and dedication. Parklands also won the Best for Communications award at the Care Home Awards in recognition of our work to connect people and communities. Throughout 2019, Parklands held social events in the community designed to support people living with dementia; produced a series of videos to capture the memories of our residents on film; and appointed a photographer in residence to celebrate the places and events that matter most to residents.

We have always found the team at Inverness Chamber extremely helpful and supportive. Nothing is too much trouble for them. No matter what size or type of business you have, they can help connect you to potential suppliers or raise a business issue on your behalf.

Take the time to attend some of the Chamber’s networking events; they’re a great way to connect with other members, even if they are online at the moment. Also, if you have a good news story to tell, make sure the Chamber knows – they can help promote your good news through their social media channels and their inbusiness supplement.

If you would like to work in the care sector, visit Parklands’ dedicated careers hub at www.parklandsgroup.com/careers where you’ll find the latest career opportunities and interviews with existing care staff. You can also sign up to receive Parklands’ recruitment bulletin.

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