Nic Mountain is Manager of the Guernsey Cheshire Home, and has been a qualified nurse for over thirty years. Nic had already spent two stints working in Guernsey, initially returning for a third time to fulfil a six-month contract at a local nursing home, but during that time a position came up at the Cheshire Home which he successfully applied for. That was almost 9½ years ago.
Up till that point, the majority of Nic’s previous nursing work had been either hospital-based or in nursing homes, mostly those specialising in care of the elderly. After arriving in Guernsey for the third time, Nic had the good fortune to meet the lady whose job he was eventually destined to take over on her return to Poland. They got to know each other during a series of chance encounters at the nursing home where Nic was working night shifts. She told Nic all about the Cheshire Home, their outlook, and what they did there, and he immediately felt drawn to what she described, so when a vacancy came up a short while later, he was keen to apply.
Nic initially came on board as the Deputy Manager, then progressed to become Manager just under three years later. His main role, then as now, is to oversee all the day-to-day running of the home, which includes looking after the residents and staff, and also some fundraising work.
Although Nic has always been passionate about his nursing vocation, he truly feels he has found something special and inspiring at the Cheshire Home. As he explains, on one level they are like any other care home, in terms of providing help with getting people up, washed, dressed and fed, then safely back to bed at the end of the day. However it is what goes on at the Cheshire Home between the residents’ waking up and retiring at night that makes the huge difference.
Nic describes the whole philosophy and ethos of the Cheshire Home as being about promoting independence, about encouraging the residents to fulfil their potential and do as much as they can – not just for themselves, but also with others, and thereby to be able to live as normal a life as possible. He feels the home is able to achieve this through the high staff-to-resident ratio, and also due to a real sense of continuity which is rare to find elsewhere in care homes.
Nic points out how this high level of commitment and continuity has helped the Guernsey Cheshire Home to develop into a true community, which enriches the experience for both residents and staff alike. In his experience, often in other care homes a person might only stay there for around six months to a year, whereas at the Guernsey Cheshire Home some have been residents for almost thirty years. This gives everyone a chance to get to know all about them as individuals, their likes and dislikes, and their wider circle of family and friends.
By the same token, Nic feels the home is very fortunate also to have great staff retention: one member has been there ever since the home opened thirty years ago, and currently even the newest member of staff has been with them for almost four years. This has enabled him to get to know them all really well, and understand their individual skills and abilities, hence forging a strong team. They are all united too, most importantly, in their attitude and emphasis on trying to enhance the residents’ quality of life.
As Nic puts it, “Here at the Guernsey Cheshire Home, our focus is on what our residents can do, not on what they cannot, and that, I think, is what best defines us.”