Meet the woman who’s building Tyne Grange, our £3.1m Newcastle complex needs care home

19 May 2020

sam cottam tyne grange newcastle

On a suburban street, half-an-hour’s walk from Newcastle’s city centre, a new, £3.1 million care home is being built.

But it’s not a standard care home. And it won’t serve the typical care home resident.

In charge is Sam Cottam, the Commissioning Director of Tyne Grange, a 22-bed care home on Grainger Park Road, to the city’s west.

Tyne Grange is one of Exemplar Health Care’s 32 complex needs care homes across England - and the very first in the North East.

Neighbours may remember the site as the Hillfield Nursing Home. Since being closed and acquired by Exemplar Health Care, the care home is being completely rebuilt from the inside.

As part of a £3.1 million investment in the area, the care home is being equipped top-to-bottom to meet the needs of its new residents.

Most will be younger adults, with complex needs such as neuro-disabilities, Huntington’s Disease, brain injury and stroke, and challenging behaviour.

Tyne Grange is set to open this summer.

A care gap

“In the North East, I feel like there’s a gap within specialist care provision - and the needs that exist,” Sam says.

And Sam should know. A native to the region, Sam grew up in a town in nearby County Durham. She completed training as a learning disability nurse at Newcastle’s Northumbria University 12 years ago.

She then started work as a nurse in a County Durham care home, eventually heading up care home operations for 11 services across the North East.

“I think Exemplar Health Care’s existing experience supporting complex needs – and its systems, processes and values – will set Tyne Grange apart from other providers.”

Sam’s well-versed with Exemplar Health Care – having started work with the company just over a year ago.

Now, while confined to her home during lockdown, Sam’s working hard to make sure Tyne Grange’s construction and processes are ready and on-schedule.

Local ties

And there’s plenty of work to do. Tyne Grange is already recruiting nurses and support workers, as part of 100 jobs the new care home will create.

“We’ve got stable, secure job opportunities for both qualified and non-qualified staff,” she says.

“Exemplar Health Care actually do care about their staff. I think that's why it'll set us apart.”

To help boost local ties, there’s already plans in place to have local schools name its two units.

“I hope Tyne Grange becomes a presence within the local community, where we can be involved with different things where we live. I want us to be a place where we host community events.”

“And likewise our service users can be part of the community, whether through work placements or local events or volunteering,” she adds.

‘A unique way’

With 22 beds, Tyne Grange’s two upper floors have ten bedrooms each, many of them looking out onto the landscaped garden. There are also two apartments on the ground floor.

For residents, the apartments can serve as a transitional care pathway. It allows residents the space to have a complex placement that can be delivered in a unique way.

For example, a resident living with challenging behaviour may need an apartment as part of a safeguarding step.

Or, a resident could be in the process of learning new skills, and could still receive support before leaving the care home.

‘No bad habits’

A big advantage of opening a brand-new care home is the ability to get things right from the start, says Sam.

“It’s a brand new service, so there are no bad habits built-in,” she says.

“We have a vision, a shared goal, to be Outstanding,” Sam adds, referring to the Care Quality Commissioning’s highest – and highly desired – rating.

“We’ll run with that vision from Day One.”

Careers at Exemplar Health Care

If you or someone you know is interested in working at Tyne Grange when it opens this summer, Exemplar Health Care offers a range of rewarding careers. Find out more about your career opportunities and our vacancies.