I find it upsetting that we live in a society that’s riddled with age discrimination. I’ve devoted my working life to caring for the elderly and I’m frankly ashamed that a person can be refused a life changing operation or drugs because of their age. Despite being outlawed, ageism is still a massive problem in great swathes of society.
I often think it’s the fact I grew up largely without having a relationship with my own grandparents and missed out on that loving bond, that has given me the passion to champion the care and respect of old people. My grandad from my father’s side died when I was three; I never knew my grandad from my mother’s side and my Polish grandma from her mother’s side didn’t speak a word of English. At Broomgrove I’m entrusted with the care of scores of the region’s grandmas and grandads and my primary focus is making a positive and lasting difference to their lives.
One of the biggest thrills of my time at Broomgrove over the past few weeks was bringing closure to the death of Dorothy Sharp’s brother, 70 years after he went missing. She never knew what happened to him in the last hours of his life and, because he was lost at sea in World War Two, there was never a grave for her to visit. We managed to find out exactly what happened to him and even discovered a memorial to him in Sheffield – at the school both Dorothy, now 89-years-old, and her brother attended in the 1930s. We took her on a trip to visit it recently. She was absolutely thrilled – it was lovely to see.
I’ve now had 20 years experience in care homes – with over decade of those as manager – and it’s my mission to make the happiness of residents as important as the exemplary care they receive – I truly believe that should be the goal for any home. Though Broomgrove has a fantastic reputation for its nursing, its standards and it’s palliative care I’ve had the luxury of seeing examples of best practice from up and down the country and I’m continually introducing subtle changes in the way we do things to improve life still further.
No care home should ever become complacent. Residents should have as much independence as they want and a care home’s service should be tailored to them – not the other way around!
Donna Pierpoint is the manager of Sheffield’s renowned Broomgrove Nursing Home. She has 20 years experience in the sector, a decade of those as care home manager.