The new head of Sheffield’s only charity-run nursing home has hit out against discrimination of people on the grounds of their age.
Broomgrove Nursing Home manager Donna Pierpoint says she knows there is a mountain to climb when it comes to stamping out age discrimination in the outside world but, as far as her community goes, she’s determined to develop a blueprint for others to follow.
She said: “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 in the Equality Act, ageism is still a massive problem in great swathes of society.”
Donna thinks it’s the fact she grew up largely without having a relationship with her own grandparents and missing out on that loving bond that has given her the passion to champion the care and respect of old people.
She said: “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, which is on Broomgrove Road just off Ecclesall Road, she’s entrusted with the care of scores of the region’s grandmas and granddads and says nothing pleases her more than making a positive difference to their lives.
One of the biggest thrills of her time at Broomgrove to date was bringing closure to the death of Dorothy Sharpe’s brother, 70 years after he went missing.
Dorothy 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.
Donna said: “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 find it an incredible honour to be given the role of looking after elderly residents. These people have lived incredible lives and I’ll do anything I can to make their final years as pleasurable as possible.”
Donna has 20 years’ experience in care homes – with over a decade of those as manager – and she has made it her mission to make the happiness of residents as important as the exemplary care they receive.
She said: “Broomgrove has a fantastic reputation for its nursing, its standards and its palliative care. But I’ve had the advantage of seeing examples of best practice in scores of homes right across the country and it’s the introduction of new, subtle changes in the way we do things that are going to make it even better.”
One of the first things that the registered nurse has introduced is a feeling of openness and better communication.
She said: “Feedback from residents and their relatives is the best source of information you can ever have on what you’re doing well and how you can improve.
“Broomgrove was getting this information via an annual survey but I’ve now introduced a new way of doing things that asks for feedback from every respite and convalescent patient as they’re discharged. This means we’re getting continual feedback.”
Donna joined the home in its 50th anniversary year.
She said: “I really couldn’t have wished to join a care home in a better position. At a time when the financial positions of many providers have been called into question, the foundations of Broomgrove are completely solid.
“Residents have as much independence as they want and we should be tailoring our service to them.
“If someone wants a breakfast cereal we’ve not got we’ll get it for them for as long as they want it. If they want to watch TV until midnight that’s fine with us. We really will do everything possible to help them enjoy their life with us.”
Broomgrove’s charitable status means that every penny of surplus it makes is ploughed back into improving the standard of care for patients and residents.
More information on Broomgrove Nursing Home on 0114 2661311 or log onto www.broomgrove-trust.co.uk