Posted: 08.04.21 at 14:40 by Derek Davis
Nub News gets UP CLOSE with the recently appointed compassionate and competitive Spring Lodge care home manager Donna Owen, who values residents' right to top quality care and looking after her staff.
From tea girl to regional support worker Donna Owen has done it all within the care industry and it has not taken her long to embrace her latest role as care home manager at Spring Lodge in Woolverstone, part of the nationally acclaimed Kingsley Healthcare Group.
Fiercely protective of her staff the gregarious Donna spells out her ethos in ensuring the elderly residents at Spring Lodge will get the very best in terms of quality care at the home that already has an excellent reputation for looking after those with dementia.
Like all care homes, Spring Lodge has endured a tough year with the staff going to the limit and beyond during the pandemic, in what was already a demanding but rewarding job.
"My simple ethos is everyone deserves a good quality of live," said Donna. "Whether that is young, old, staff - whoever. Whenever I start with a new team I ensure they have good work/life balance. I want them to feel valued because I believe that makes them give a better quality of care.
"The team at Spring Lodge are very competent but perhaps need a big confidence boost. I would like to see them be more empowered to make decisions for themselves.
"I would like to see them all become natural leaders and be working to leadership level. That makes them think more about their job, rather than just coming into work.
"That is bit of a cultural change, ultimately though I would like see them happy."
Donna, who lives with her partner in Ipswich, jumped at the opportunity to take over at Spring Lodge after working as a
regional support manager in the London area and but due to all the commuting and the love of Suffolk decided against relocating and wanted to stay in the area.
She said: "Kingsley Healthcare has an excellent reputation and very care oriented and as I want to work for an organisation that cares for people this was ideal.
"When I can to see the home I fell in love with it. I realised it could be something really special with a little bit of TLC and the right person to help motivate everyone to drive it."
Spring Lodge is known for its wide range of activities run in the main by coordinators Aimee and Emily, which has already impressed Donna, who is hoping they can start taking residents out again in the relatively near future.
She said: "Aimee and Emily are amazing human beings and I wonder how they do it, with all the Zoom meetings, activities.
"Hopefully we can then have outings with the residents, especially for the more able and active. We are planning lots of walks down the front in Shotley and over to the Felixstowe seafront."
Donna has already shown her competitive spirit by entering and promoting Spring Lodge's highly-rated food. They today came runners up in the first week of Kingsley's version of Mary Berry's Bake Off competition and has backed her chefs Andy Gray and Tom Powell, to go one better in the Pavlova technical challenge.
The home's bakers came up with their sensational version of an Easter cake, with a woodland theme and a radio transmitter, which was narrowly pipped at the final count in a national competition, but she will not give up, as her working history shows.
After starting as a care worker when she was a 16-years-old in Pembrokeshire and doing teas in a nursing home she then progressed to team manger. A long spell in domiciliary care, and then other care homes left her needing more of a challenge so trained as an assessor, then as trainer of health care nationwide. All the while she was working towards and gaining diplomas in health and social care throughout Wales and then all over the UK.
Donna then secured a role in Essex as a training and redevelopment manger five years ago, and the move to East Anglia where he relatively young age raised some eyebrows.
"I have taken every opportunity I can," said Donna. "Any training available I do. I have done my health and social care degree and finished my master in 2019 while I was a care home manager in London.
"I am an active and motivated person. I got stick for being a young senior manager but I overcome that. I love care."
Like many in her sector Donna has been close to the edge but has battled through with an indomitable determination to lead and succeed.
She said: "It has been difficult everywhere. When I was in London and there was an outbreak I would stay in the home to help
"The amount of deaths I have seen is something in 20 years in the sector I have never seen before. There were times I thought I can't do this any more. It has been extremely intense.
"I take my hat off to all the staff everywhere who have worked through this. I take my hat off to all of them."
Perhaps typically, Donna reserves the final word for the Spring Lodge team of carers, cleaners, kitchen crew and activity coordinators.
"I want give a huge thank you to all the staff," said Donna "Their continuous commitment and dedication to the home and heir immense hard work during these difficult time has been amazing.
"I have only been here short period time but it is so obvious to me what they have done and they need that recognition."
Spring Lodge will be welcoming more visitors for their residents as from Monday April 12 when two family members will be allowed indoors.