“Personality - we have a lot of that in this room.” This is the opening line that sparked my interest which Eve who is leading the day says. I get to peek into the world of Evolve’s Care Academy and see that this statement rings true.
As I watch people coming in there is an air of familiarity as hugs are shared and laughter echoes in the halls. You can see the tight knit relationship between the support office and the care home team as people catch up and jokes and banter fly back and forth across the room. It is more of a family reunion than a work training day.
This is the essence of Evolve. Family.
The theme for this year’s training day is ‘RESPECT’, which stands for: Records, Emotional Wellbeing, Skin Integrity, Prescription, Equipment, Capability, and Timely Transfer. Though I’m not medically trained, there are elements of this course that I find I can apply to my own life and work style. This course isn’t your typical corporate experience. We’re talking about pure honesty and the raw human emotion that often comes with working in care. Also, Eve is running around with no shoes on!
It’s been clear to me that Evolve Care Group values identity and individualism, believing that people need the space and freedom to be themselves so they can be their very best at work. This is evident when you step into the training academy. There are people from all walks of life here, different personalities, histories, experiences that have shaped each one into who they are today. But despite all these differences there is one thing that they all have in common, and that is they care. We speak about how we all come from our past, but we don’t have to be products of our past, which really resonates with me. You can experience some awful things in life, but it’s up to you to not let it define who you are.
It strikes me as a poignant moment when Eve talks about the ‘Me’ in ‘Dementia’, about putting yourself in the person’s shoes and recognising the person in front of you as the person they are, and not the disease they have. Dementia can be an incredibly lonely experience. Though you aren’t experiencing dementia yourself, there will have been a time in your life where you have felt truly lost. Where you’ve felt so desperate for someone to reach into the darkness and pick you up. You cannot teach someone to be empathetic, it is something that innately lives within us. Only a select few have the ability to genuinely empathise and care, that is something I see in everyone in the room with me.
There is a misconception about dementia that because a person is no longer able to express themselves clearly or be independent in the way you and I are, that they are lost. Just because a person has dementia does not mean that person isn’t there anymore. They are still in there somewhere, sometimes you just have to look harder to find them.
A story is shared with us about a lady in Heanton Nursing Home living with a dementia. She requires a lot of support but is very resistant to accept so will pinch, shout and scratch at carers. Hearing this sparked a pang in my chest. Eve moves me with this story and with her head held high and her hand pointing out to emphasise her words she said, “We will find her in her journey.” I felt so empowered by her passion and each word in that sentence resonated through me.
We need to be able to adapt to suit a person’s needs so that everyone receives the same treatment no matter what capacity. If you show someone with a dementia that they are cherished and have purpose, you will find that dementia can be beautiful. You won’t find someone more genuine than a person living with dementia, if they are frustrated you’ll sure know about it, but if they are happy and supported, they can give you so much back.
We then have a surprise visit from Shrien, who usually joins Eve on stage to lead the day, who pops in via Teams meeting to say hello and though he isn’t there in person he is certainly there in spirit. The jokes are cracking between him, Eve and the audience alike and you can see that this is Evolve.
He asks, “Has the training been good today?” “Yes!” the audience shout back.
“Out of 10?” He prods further, “11!” they shout.
Another emphasis in the trainings message is ‘sharing knowledge is power’. Open discussion and debate is encouraged, and people are being so honest about what areas they need to work on and how to improve as a professional. At one point in the day, all nurses, care practitioners and house leaders are asked to get up on the stage. It’s inspiring to see so much pride on the faces of those who stand there, and a wealth of knowledge shares this space. These people are providing personal care to the elderly, our families, every day. They try their hardest no matter what because it’s in their nature. Eve highlights that there is also invaluable knowledge in the people still sat down, and when we talk and share our experiences, we can learn. We can become more well-rounded individuals and ultimately provide better care. Eve says herself “I have learned things myself this afternoon!”.
As the day comes to an end and people finish their coffees before their journeys home, I get to speak to Eve about the competence assessment that everyone had to do. She explains that she has tailored it to be accessible to everyone of all learning styles and it reaffirms in me that this is a people driven business. Not only do Evolve care about the individuals in their care homes and how tailored care for each person can provide a great quality of life, but they also apply this to their team as well.
Evolve Care Group are a company driven by heart and education, 2 pillars which when working together can provide the best level of care and the closest of bonds, and today proves that.