Dilys Megicks
Manager, Hafan Deg Residential Home

Despite all the challenges, it’s such an extremely rewarding job, making people’s lives happy and without pain, as they are growing older is the goal and seeing the joy of the residents’ faces when we’re out and about or, being part of an activity, is what it’s all about.

My Story:

Saturday, 14 February 1981 was my first day of work here, at Hafan Deg. Starting out as an Assistant Matron, I progressed to being Manager (known as Matron at the time) in 1983, and have been the Manager ever since – 38 years on!

I was a general nurse beforehand and this was my stepping stone into residential care at the time.

I became a Registered General Nurse because I liked the thought of helping people and making sure they were well cared for; I don’t like seeing people suffer or be in pain

Career progression

If a person has the drive, experience and the desire to progress, a good manager will identify this in a person and provide the opportunities for that person to develop further.

Rachael, my Deputy Manager initially started here as a clerical officer. She had previously done some care work at a different home and has a qualification in Psychology. She’s currently our Deputy Manager and has been successful in securing the role of Manager when I retire in June!

Care staff

The staff are excellent here; it’s the staff that make the home so great. We currently have about 30 members of staff, ranging from care staff to the cleaning and kitchen staff. Remember we are a 24-hour service so we need to have a sufficient amount of staff for both the day and night shifts.

It takes a particular person with the right qualities to be able to carry out the role of care staff. It’s full-on and there’s no time to sit around; it’s an energetic role that’s diverse in responsibilities and constant in its demands. However, it’s an extremely rewarding role and you know you’re in the right job when you see the joy on a resident’s face after you’ve helped them and ensured that they’re comfortable, out of pain and have been given opportunities to socialise and still enjoy life.

We have jobs that are part-time or ones that offer flexible working patterns. Some people may work 8am-5pm, evenings, night shifts or weekends only. We try and ensure that staff are on the shift pattern that they wish to be on but each member of staff has to be flexible should something arise – at the end of the day, we have to ensure that the needs of our residents and the high level of care is constant.

More than 1.45 million people work in social care at the moment, but an extra 650,000 workers will be needed by 2035 due to an ageing population, ministers have said.

If you feel that a role in caring may be the role for you, why not have a look to see if there are any current vacancies on the Council’s website.

A typical day is non-existent!

At the beginning of every day, there is a hand over; staff from the end of the night shift will provide up to date information on each resident and on any situation that may have arisen, to staff who are starting the day shift. There might be issues that we’ll have to address, be it contacting GP’s or nurses from the local surgery, or contacting families. A lot of the initial work of the day arises from what has happened during the night.

Staff are required to write care plans and risk assessments during their shifts. All staff have to be up to date on any changes to legislation and statutory requirements.

Then, ensuring that the right medication has been given to residents – the right amount and at the right time – this is a rigid routine embedded into the overall routine of the day.

Despite all the challenges, it’s such an extremely rewarding job, making people’s lives happy and without pain, as they are growing older is the goal and seeing the joy of the residents’ faces when we’re out and about or, being part of an activity, is what it’s all about.

If you’re looking for a career for life, which makes a positive difference, then a job in social care could be for you.

Manager’s role

As a manager, the role is so diverse – you can never get bored as there’s constant change. Whether that’s regulations or the way we work, we have to be very flexible and adaptable to change which is a challenge I enjoy.

One challenge we have is funding. We provide a high level of care that is needed for each and every resident and ensure we have sufficient resources. This all comes with a cost. We strive to gain funding from a variety of organisations to help contribute to our declining budget, which has decreased over the years due to less money been given to Councils from the Government.

Fortunately, we’ve been successful over the years in securing extra funding, for example, we’ve recently received funding from Age Concern to carry out sessions of varying activities for the benefit of the residents.

We work closely with others and welcome offers of support from external organisations.

We are very lucky to have the ‘League of Friends’ too; a voluntary group that meets a few times a year. They arrange fetes, fundraising events, such as Whist nights and raise money for various things for the residents, such as trips, Easter eggs, Christmas presents, even televisions. The League of Friends have been extremely supportive over the years, they often ask us what do we need, and they’ll raise the money. The League of Friends welcomes new members, contact Hafan Deg for more information.

Changes to Hafan Deg over the years

Since starting here, there’s been a lot of changes. When I started here there were 50 beds, which included multi-occupancy bedrooms. Now, we have 20 beds. All are single occupancy rooms, five of which are ensuite. We can be accommodating for exceptions such as couples or siblings who wish to share a bedroom.

Initially, the Home would have been more like a hotel establishment, with residents having the freedom to come and go as they please and would have come to live at the home at a relatively early age, even as young as their early 60’s.

Nowadays, nearly all the residents need staff assistance to be able to go outside the home, for example, out to the town. This is because our residents tend to come here at a much more mature age, and typically have complex conditions that require assistance from our staff. People are able to stay more independent as they’re getting older and are living in their own homes for longer.
The day centre was an addition to the home in 1987. It’s attached to the home but is run slightly different from the way the Home is run. Our residents can spend up to an entire day at the day centre before returning to the home. The setting provides a change of scenery and allows residents to experience different activities to what they do in the Home.

Residents’ Wellbeing

We provide a variety of activities and entertainment sessions, from cake decorating, sing-a-long sessions, and day trips or a walk into town.

We have a relatively new system, called RITA. RITA stands for Reminiscence Interactive Therapy Activities and is a valuable tool for use with people suffering from dementia as well as residents without the diagnosis. The system can be used by resident’s themselves or with a carer to engage them in a range of activities. These include listening to music, showing them photos, interactive games and even replaying famous speeches the resident may connect with.

Residents also receive a daily reminiscing newspaper, called the ‘Daily Sparkle’ which contains news and interesting articles from the last century, possibly 50 years ago or longer, with the aim to help residents engage with to jog their memory.

On alternate weeks, clergymen from local places of worship will hold a religious service. An idea that’s being discussed at the moment is arranging pastoral visits from the clergymen to offer residents regular opportunities to talk, in confidence, on matters they possibly don’t feel comfortable in discussing with anyone else, for example, end of life issues. I think this will be a positive new feature that will offer residents an extra opportunity for them to express their feelings and thoughts in an impartial way.

Young and old interacting together to share the enjoyment

Other visitors the residents see on a regular basis are members of the local Merched y Wawr and children from the Lampeter Family Centre. The children once even brought a lamb with them, the residents were overjoyed at this kind gesture in allowing them to reconnect with nature, you could see the pure joy in their faces.

Schools visit us too – there are a lot of inter-generational activities that bind us with the local children, making us a cohesive part of the community within Lampeter.

We also have school children, or Health & Social Care college students, visit as part of work experience or placement.

Every year we take part in the Lampeter carnival and now is the exciting time for both staff and residents alike when we all work together on sharing ideas, choosing the props and costumes needed to decorate the float. This year’s theme is ‘World Book Day’ so the possibility is endless! I’m looking forward to hearing what ideas the residents have. On the day of the carnival, residents will travel in a decorated minibus and join in with the procession around town. Residents get to enjoy an ice cream with the rest of the community at Lampeter Rugby Club where the procession leads to.