Published on

20 February 2024

Bells are ringing and so are the changes at care home

The Berkshire Care Home has undergone refurbishment after it was bought by the council and is set to be renamed

The Berkshire Care Home

The Berkshire Care Home in Wokingham is set to have a new name – Bluebell House – following consultation with residents, their families and staff.

There have been lots of positive changes since Wokingham Borough Council purchased the home in September 2023 from Four Seasons Health Care.

The home was purchased for £4.1 million, giving consideration to the borough’s ageing population and the demand for dementia and nursing care, which is only expected to grow in the next ten years.

The investment has meant an increase in high-quality and affordable care, ensuring people can continue to stay within their communities as their lives change.

The 50-bedroom care home on Barkham Road is run by the council’s social care provider, Optalis. The building is currently being updated, with the refurbishment set to make it a more dementia-friendly and welcoming environment.

There was a consensus among residents, staff and families that a name change would be appropriate, to mark a new era and fresh approach for the service. Optalis reviewed local, historical and cultural links with the site and provided options for consultation.

The council is in the process of finalising the name change, and the regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), has been informed.

A new era for care home

Cllr David Hare, executive member for health, wellbeing and adult services, said: “Lots of great work has been done at this care home already and it seems incredibly fitting to ring in a new era with a new name. Working with the residents, family members and staff, they have helped to select the new name.

“The improvements being made are having a real positive impact on the residents and we are confident that this will continue over the coming months. By stepping in to purchase the care home, we have demonstrated a commitment to providing high-quality, affordable care in the borough. Even with the council’s financial challenges, we must do all we can to support vulnerable residents, giving them every opportunity to live and be cared for with dignity and respect.”

Funds are being invested to refurbish the home, with work being done to update some of the older features and improve living conditions for people. The home has already seen valuable changes, including new ramps, external landscaping and tree maintenance.

Additional works to be undertaken include new lighting, the installation of a new boiler house and a new nurse call bell system. This new call system will create a digital care environment, enabling the safe and efficient management of the home.

While under the old ownership, the home was rated ‘Inadequate’ by the CQC in February 2023. Significant steps have been taken to address concerns raised by the regulator, with a view to achieving an improved rating in the near future.

Because Optalis is council-owned, it means any financial surplus generated through its operations is returned to the council for further investment in local services.

'Friendly, professional and polite'

David Birch, Optalis Chief Executive Officer, said: “Residential and nursing care provides an option for people who find that living in their own home is no longer the best and safest option for them. Our aim is to create a comfortable and welcoming place where people can spend their later years securely and contently, surrounded by the people and things they love, in a community where everyone looks out for each other, doing the things that matter to them.

“The recent investment to improve the environment at Bluebell House will certainly help with this. We are proud to be working in partnership with Wokingham Borough Council and we are committed to making the service improvements needed. Our priority is to support the wellbeing and independence of the people we care for and respond to their changing needs.”

There are currently 15 people living at the care home and there has been positive feedback from families about the change in ownership.

One relative said: “I feel my sister-in-law is in good hands. I’m very impressed with the open approach to management decisions and style at these early stages of the takeover. May it be the recipe for all matters going forward.”

Another said: “While visiting my aunt, all the staff were very friendly, professional and polite. The home has a warm atmosphere and feels homely. I am very pleased and grateful that my aunt is happy and that she is being cared for very well.”

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