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Health Minister Robin Swann has congratulated 132 care home managers from across Northern Ireland who have completed the programme to date.

The My Home Life Leadership Support Programme, designed to improve quality of life for residents, relatives, and staff in care homes by promoting voice, choice, and control.

The 10-month programme, funded by the Department of Health, is led by Ulster University’s Professor of Ageing and Health, Professor Assumpta Ryan, and supports care home managers to implement globally recognised best practice principles in their care homes.

The My Home Life programme is delivered using a combination of face-to face and online sessions at locations across Northern Ireland.  Each group consists of 20 care home managers who come together on a monthly basis and are facilitated to enhance their leadership skills and share their experiences to improve quality of life for residents, relatives, and staff.

Professor Assumpta Ryan, Professor of Ageing and Health at Ulster University’s School of Nursing, commented:

“Care home managers and staff play a vital role in supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our society, they’re managing 16,000 care home beds in Northern Ireland and operating in an extremely challenging post pandemic environment. This programme provides much needed support for care home managers to negotiate the complex, and often conflicting, emotional stresses of their work, while helping them to find solutions and protect themselves from the very real risk of ‘burnout’.

“Those who undertook the programme last year in the midst of the pandemic reported that it was a lifeline which offered much needed support and an opportunity to meet other managers in similar positions”.

The participants are supported with quality improvement initiatives aligned with the My home Life principles, the QI initiatives which have a direct impact on the quality of life for residents. Previous cohorts looked at transition into care homes, supporting people living with advanced dementia and many more.

Five My Home Life leadership programmes have taken place across Northern Ireland in previous months. These will provide care home managers with an opportunity to reflect on their role and to drive forward any changes they would like to make in creating a more homely environment for their residents, families and staff. Drawing on the experience of their peers, the programme will also support managers to identify ways of coping with the multiple demands of their role and to develop the resilience required to manage a care home in the current climate.  In recognition of the severe staff shortage in care homes, the Department of Health funding also covers backfill costs to release care home staff to undertake the programme.

Eilish Morris who completed the My Home Life programme described it as a lifeline which offered much needed support and an opportunity to meet other managers in similar positions:

“For me, I find the course excellent. I’ve learned the importance of listening and pressing the ‘pause’ button. I would be a person that would do things myself and now I actually delegate more. I’ve found that I’ve learned so much from the action learning sessions.

“A lot of programmes give you the answers but in MHL NI, they guide you to look at the issue yourself, to reflect and find your own answers and that’s what I’ve gained most from the programme. I’d definitely go on it again!”

Congratulating graduates of the programme, Minister Robin Swann, said:

"Recognising the contribution of social care workers during and post the COVID-19 pandemic, in May 2020 I committed to seeking improvements to the pay, training and career development pathways of social care workers. The My Home Life programme will partly contribute to this and to the rebuilding of health and social care services for those residing in a care home setting as the health and social care sector moves back towards a more normal operating model.

“The transformation of our health and social care services is essential if we are to provide a modern and fit for purpose model of delivering health and social care. The My Home Life programme is helping to improve quality of life for residents, relatives, and staff by promoting voice, choice and control in their care homes.

“It cannot be overstated that as we face an ageing population and rises in the incidence of chronic illnesses and dementia, it is essential that care home managers and staff have opportunities to reflect on and change their practice so that they can make care homes good places to live, end your life, visit and work."

Care home managers across Northern Ireland can register to attend the My Home Life programme online.