How everyone at Exemplar Health Care looks after their mental health

9 October 2020

Resident and colleagues with crafts for World Mental Health Day 2020

As Saturday, 10 October is World Mental Health Day, we thought we’d give you an insight as to how we look after our mental health here at Exemplar Health Care.

This year, World Mental Health Day’s theme is ‘mental health for all.’ It’s a theme that we’ve long taken seriously - given that our mission is to make every day better for our 700+ residents and 3,400+ colleagues – pandemic or not.

“We all now recognise the importance of maintaining our physical and mental wellbeing,” says Alan Dalzell, a Mental Health Nurse Consultant with Exemplar Health Care.

“Please take a minute to think about you and your loved ones’ physical and mental wellbeing.”

In a busy – and currently restricted – world, Alan added, it’s easy to “just keep going.”

But instead, he added: “we should all pause to consider our own and others physical and mental well-being - especially in the current climate.”

“Use World Mental Health Day to check how you are,” says Alan. “If you need support, please speak up.” This could mean speaking to a manager, a Mental Health First Aider at your care home, (where applicable), or by accessing the support listed at the bottom of this article.

Across our 32 homes and Central Services Team, here are a just a few of the ways that we’ve been looking after our mental health:

Having fun with our friends

Science says people with friends enjoy better all-round mental health – as well as a healthier heart, immune system, deeper sleep, which contribute massively to wellbeing.

Luckily, having fun is very first of our company values – and at our homes, we see a lot of great friendships between residents and colleagues and other residents.

One awesome friendship is between Michael and Paul Anthony at Dearnevale, one of our two Barnsley homes. As they live on the same unit, they spend hours every day together, enjoying lots of activities, such as cooking together, enjoying a beer, talking about sports, and sitting in the garden when it’s sunny. The home’s Care Team love seeing how much they support each other!

Taking up exciting new gardening projects

All of our homes have access to outdoor space – and since lockdown began, there’s never been a better time to enjoy it!

And it’s well known that gardens, and outdoor spaces in general, have a massive, yet still underestimated effect on people’s health and wellbeing.  

That’s why this year, residents and the Care Team at Yarningdale, our home in Ripley, started their most ambitious project yet – turning a large part of their garden into a wildflower meadow and a rock memorial garden. During summer, another home, Kavanagh Place in Liverpool, got a gardening group together, led by a resident who used to be a professional gardener.

If we’ve managed to inspire you, here’s some starter tips from our residents to get your garden growing!

Looking after our Care Teams

Who cares for the carers? We do!

As self-care and simply taking the time to feel good is a such a big part of mental health and wellbeing, back during the height of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, every single colleague at Exemplar Health Care regularly got gift and care packages put together to support their wellbeing.

The care packages included items like hand cream, facial scrub, soap, lip balm, and yummy snacks such as chocolate buttons.  As you can imagine, they went down a treat!

Keeping in touch with family

Staying in contact your family, even if they live far away, can be an important part of looking after your mental health, says the Mental Health Foundation, which is behind World Mental Health Day.

So, when lockdown started to hit, we knew how important it was to keep our residents in regular touch with their families – even though in most cases, visits weren’t able to take place.

To make sure every residents could see their families, we quickly made sure each home had iPads. As you can see from the photos, it’s been keeping people happy and having fun!

Keeping spirits up while working from home

It’s well-known that you’re more productive at work when you have good mental health – and work in an organisation which supports your wellbeing.

But as many of us have found since the pandemic forced many of us to work from home, an important part of working and mental health is staying in regular touch with colleagues.

The Marketing Team (who wrote this article) is just one team at Exemplar Health Care catching up, and keeping our spirits up, with regular team meetings on Zoom.

On our team meetings, we all enjoy a good bit of banter and a laugh. And each of us hopes nothing unexpected – like a partner or pet, as has sometimes been the case – appears in the background behind us!

And lastly, please remember:

“It’s ok to not feel ok,” says Alan, our Mental Health Nurse Consultant.

If you’re an Exemplar Health Care colleague and need help right now, go on the My Exemplar app, and then to the Health and wellbeing page of the HR: Our People Plan section. There, you’ll find a helpline to speak to a trained external counsellor about work or home related worries. They’ll answer 24/7.

And if you haven’t already, sign up at our employee rewards and benefits website, My FIRST Rewards, which includes an online Wellbeing Centre We hope that this will support you to stay well and healthy at work.

If you don’t work with us and need help with your mental health, such as support via phone or email, please visit the NHS’s list of mental health helplines.

Come and work with us

If you or someone you know would like to work in adult social care, or continue growing their career, Exemplar Health Care offers a range of rewarding careers. 

Find out more about your career options and our vacancies here