HCS - Latest News

  • Is Your Laundry Getting Physically and Hygienically Clean to CQC Standards? And How We Can Help You....

    When we talk to our care home customers about the biggest challenges that they face in their laundry, we repeatedly hear that they struggle to effectively remove stains and eliminate unpleasant odours from residents’ clothing and linen.

    This can raise many issues including:

    • Non compliance with CQC - CQC Guidance Regulation 15 states that all equipment needs to be visibly clean and free from odours that are offensive and unpleasant, using appropriate cleaning agents
    • Inadequate infection prevention - In the Health and Social Care Act 2008 Code of Practice Prevention and Control of Infection in Care Homes guidance on linen and laundry social care professionals need to procure and deliver a level of linen decontamination that service-users have a right to expect. Linen provided and used by care providers:

    • Should look clean

    • Should not be damaged or discoloured
    • Complaints from relatives – no one wants to see their loved ones clothing stained and not smelling pleasant
    • Frustrated and demotivated staff - feeling they’re not doing a good job because they can’t get linen clean
    • Unnecessary Increased costs – rewashing laundry equals extra costs and the need to reinvest in additional linen

    Delicate fabrics and high energy bills mean that many care homes wash laundry at lower temperatures, while this can help reduce the cost of energy, not all temperatures kill germs and typically generic destaining products are not effective at removing stains at temperatures less than 50 degrees centigrade, so there is the risk of bacteria and other germs surviving or being passed from one item of clothing to another and also that linen won’t be physically clean.

    Did you know that here at Hcsuk, we offer a FREE and unique Laundry Audit to evaluate exactly how efficiently your care home laundry is operating including an accurate calculation of exactly how much each wash cycle is costing you.

    Our resident laundry expert, Ken, who has over 20 years experience working in care home laundries will spend time with your laundry staff to understand the challenges they face and provide advice and solutions to help you to improve your systems.

    You will then receive a written proposal detailing our findings, recommendations and equivalent cost per wash comparison for your consideration.

    Laundry Audit Case Study

    When we completed our FREE LAUNDRY AUDIT at a local  88 bed care home, we learnt from their laundry manager that she was having to dispose of 6 bed sheets every week due to being unable to effectively remove staining – that equated to wastage of over 300 sheets every year and their bedding costs in excess of £3,000.

    The laundry chemicals they were using were low in cost, heavily diluted and they were using higher than necessary volumes of product to compensate for poor cleaning performance.

    As an experiment, we asked for one of the sheets she had written off and ran it through her machine, working at a similar temp and wash cycle that she would normally use, utilising our Crystalbrite Low Temperature Antibacterial Destainer, an effective oxygen-based low temperature liquid destainer, which removes stains even at temperatures as low as 20ºC, and Kills 99.999% germs in 5 minutes at 20oC.

    The results were amazing! After the sheet going through 2 wash cycles, the stains were completely removed and the sheet, looking like new, was able to go back into service.

    This enabled the home to save valuable resources on the replacement of sheets, improve the physical and hygienic cleaning results of their laundry, and improve infection prevention, a real WIN WIN!

    Fast forward 3 years and the laundry manager tells us she would not be without her Low Temp Destain, she describes it as the ‘best laundry product she has ever had!’

    This care home has since been rated ‘Outstanding’ with CQC.

    When was the last time you evaluated the overall efficiency of your laundry?

    How could you benefit from some free advice from a care sector laundry specialist with over 20 years experience?

    Our *FREE LAUNDRY AUDIT has been successful in many care homes and has helped them to:

    • SAVE money
    • IMPROVE cleaning results
    • INCREASE staff motivation
    • REDUCE complaints
    • INCREASE compliance

    Why not book your FREE, no obligation, LAUNDRY AUDIT today by emailing [email protected] or calling her on her mobile 07968 994660.

    *Terms and conditions apply

  • How to manage hydration for the people you support with Dysphagia to promote safer and independent drinking.

    Managing the ladies and gents you support with Dysphagia and ensuring that they maximise on the correct levels of  hydration  represents a huge challenge to care managers and their teams, given that these residents are at high risk of being deficient due to  finding it difficult to  tolerate large volumes of fluids.

    And Dysphagia  is known  to affect between 53%-74% of nursing home residents. It may occur in people who have a Dementia, stroke, Motor Neurone disease and other neurological conditions.

    The Importance of Hydration

    Water intake is often a secondary consideration in Dysphagia management. Water makes up 75% of the volume of the body and the NHS advises drinking 2.5 litres of water per day. Many older people and those with Dysphagia do not drink adequate amounts of water, consuming only 480–960 mls 2-4 glasses per day. However, drinking sufficient amounts of fluid can assist in preventing or treating the following ailments

    • Pressure ulcers

    • Urinary infections and incontinence

    • Heart disease

    • Diabetes management

    • Dizziness and confusion leading to falls

    • Skin conditions

    • Constipation

    • Kidney stones

    • Low blood pressure

    • Cognitive impairment

    • Poor oral health

    It  can be challenging to assess hydration in older people however you can look out for these signs and symptoms:

    Signs of dehydration

    • Dryness of the mouth, lips and tongue
    • Sunken eyes
    • Dry inelastic skin
    • Drowsiness, confusion or disorientation
    • Dizziness and low blood pressure

    Dehydration is also indicated with a reduced and more concentrated urine output. As a general rule, the colour of urine can be a useful guide; urine that is odourless and pale in colour generally indicates good hydration, dark strong smelling urine is a common symptom of dehydration. However, there are a number of medical conditions and certain medications that can add colour to urine.

    Monitoring fluid intake is a good guide to ensuring good hydration.

    The key to maintaining hydration for people with Dysphagia is to promote safe swallowing and to ensure that the fluids are of the appropriate texture and thickness.

    Advice on safer swallowing for improved hydration

    1. Ensure your resident is always sitting upright at 90 degrees when drinking.
    2. Do not give them drinks when slouched or lying down
    3. Encourage small sips of fluid and discourage gulping
    4. Make sure they have swallowed a drink before taking more in
    5. Prevent people from using drinks to wash down food.

    Other strategies to help improve hydration include:

    • Thickening  fluids for safer swallowing
    • Correct positioning
    • Drinking smaller quantities with each sip:
    • Investing in specialist Dysphagia drinking devices

    Thickened fluids

    One way of helping patients with swallowing problems to take fluids without aspirating is to consume liquid of a thicker consistency. A speech therapist can give advice about thickened fluids. Fluid can be thickened artificially with powder or bought pre-thickened.


    The adopted position for drinking can also effect swallowing. A study  showed that: “The chin down posture can have a positive effect on swallowing safety and reduce the incidence of aspiration and depth of penetration, in the context of cup drinking with thin liquids.” - Fraser (2012

    Drinking smaller quantities with each sip

    Sometimes residents with learning difficulties or Dementia may gulp fluid too quickly, risking aspiration. It is possible that limiting the amount of fluid consumed with each swallow can also make swallowing safer.

    Choosing specialist Dysphagia drinking devices for safer hydration

    We provide a range of drinking devices which restrict the volume of fluid delivered and allow safer independent drinking for people living with Dysphagia.

    1. Our Internal Coned Mug - the clever cone shaped interior, which tapers towards the bottom and looks like an ice cream cone enables people to drink independently without having to tilt their head backwards. Even people who are bed-bound or have limited movement in the neck and arms can satisfy their thirst. And in contrast to the nose cut-out cups that are often used for people with physical limitations, these mugs are also intuitive to use and require no explanation 
    2. Our Spouted Non-Drip Lid (works with coned mug above) Through the special design of this spout, fluid intake is determined by suction. This not only enables spills to be limited to a couple of drips, but also minimises the risk of choking. After all, the user can simply determine for themselves how much they want to drink. 
    3. Our Wide Spout Lid for Thickened Fluids (works with coned mug above) Suitable for use with thicker fluids, this long spout means your residents with limited mobility don't have to tilt their heads back to drink.
    4. Our Drink-Rite Cup  is an ideal choice for ladies and gents who can’t tolerate thickened fluids and is a safer option for people with learning difficulties and Dementia to prevent gulping as it provides only a small, controlled volume of fluid into the mouth (either 5 or 100cc) at a time. 
    5. Our Dysphagia Cup is oval in shape to help accommodate the nose which prevents the need to tilt the head back and the safer chin tuck position can be adapted.  It is also weighted to help reduce spills for those with tremors, with an optional base.

    For more information or to arrange to see samples of our range of drinking vessels to help support your residents with Dysphagia, please contact Lucy by email at [email protected] or on her mobile 07968 994660.

  • CQC calls for improvements to oral health in care homes

    The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has recently published the findings of an in-depth review on the state of oral health care in care homes across England.

    The review draws on one hundred inspections of care homes on which CQC inspectors were accompanied by inspectors from dental regulation. It reveals that three years on from the publication of NICE guidance on oral health in care homes, steps are often not being taken to ensure that people get the oral health care they need to ensure that they are pain-free and that their dignity is respected.

    Key findings include:

    • The majority (52%) of care homes visited had no policy to promote and protect people’s oral health
    • Nearly half (47%) of care homes were not providing any staff training to support people’s daily oral healthcare
    • 73% of residents’ care plans reviewed only partly covered or did not cover oral health at all – homes looking after people with dementia being the most likely to have no plan in place.
    • 17% of care homes said they did not assess people’s oral health on admission
    • Kate Terroni, Chief Inspector for Adult Social Care at the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said:
    • “Oral health has a huge impact on our quality of life and we need professionals across a number of sectors to make changes to ensure it is given the priority it needs in care home settings
    • “Oral health cannot be treated as an afterthought. It can make the difference between someone who is free from pain, enjoys eating and is able to confidently express themselves through talking and smiling – and someone who is in pain, unable to enjoy their food and who covers their mouth with their hand when they smile because they are ashamed of their poor oral hygiene but unable to address it themselves. No one should have to live like that.

    Why is good oral care so important?

    1. Inadequate oral care can be detrimental to social and emotional well-being
    2. To maintain adequate levels of nutrition and hydration for weight maintenance
    3. To keep  residents as comfortable as possible in palliative and end-of-life care 
    4. Because dental decay and gum disease are entirely preventable
    5. There is mounting evidence that shows an association between poor oral hygiene and a wide variety of illnesses including:
    • Dementia
    • Pneumonia,
    • Diabetes,
    • Kidney and heart disease
    • Cancer.

    So what is the difference between oral hygiene and oral care?

    Oral Hygiene

    • Cleaning teeth and the oral cavity using toothpaste and toothbrush delivered twice daily

    Oral Care

    • Ensuring that the mouth is clear of trapped food and debris with Moutheze oral cleanser
    • Ensuring that the mouth is pink, clean and moist
    • Checking regularly with a pen torch to ensure the oral environment hasn’t changed - delivered 2 hourly – perhaps when re-positioning
    • Interaction with the person to ask about how their mouth feels – especially for pain and dryness
    • Vulnerable adults are often unable to take proper care of their teeth due to overall weakness or problems like:
    • Arthritis
    • Memory loss
    • Anxiety
    • Sleep disturbance
    • Depression
    • Disorientation

    Research has found the following challenges to achieving and maintaining good oral health for residents in care homes.

    • This aspect of care is sometimes considered as distasteful
    • With residents who retain some of their teeth, care staff can show reluctance to deliver mouth care for fear of personal harm from non compliance
    • Staff may not give oral care priority
    • Lack of fit for purpose tools and products with which to work 
    • Lack of formal guidance and training
    • Other workplace pressures

    So what do care homes need to do to comply with CQC latest guidelines for oral care?

    What the Care Quality Commission expects

    The Care Quality Commission expects registered managers to take account of nationally recognised guidance, including guidance from NICE.

    Evidence about how you support residents to maintain good oral health will help you demonstrate that your service is both effective and responsive.

    NICE’s guideline on oral health for adults in care homes, including the baseline assessment tool, can be used as part of your preparation for inspection and to support requests for help to other services.

    Oral health assessment

    All residents should have an oral health assessment when they move into the care home, with the result recorded in their care plan. Care staff should start by asking the following questions:

    How do you usually manage your daily mouth care and what help would you like?

    What dental aids do you currently use? For example, manual or electric toothbrush, mouthwash, floss.

    Do you have dentures, and if so are they marked with your name? If not, would you like them to be marked?

    When did you last see a dentist, and who did you see?

    If you don't have a dentist would you like help to find one?

    Using an oral health assessment tool - like the one here - will highlight any areas where residents need specific care and support. Using it for reassessments will indicate any changes that may need action.

    Care staff knowledge and skills

    Care staff need to know when to reassess the oral health of a resident and how to support residents with their daily mouth care to:

    Brush their natural teeth at least twice a day with fluoride

    Use their choice of cleaning products for dentures.


    Clean their dentures (brushing, removing food debris, and removing dentures overnight).

    Use their choice of toothbrush, either manual or electric/battery powered, and mouth care products.

    They also need to understand how dental pain or a mouth infection can affect residents’ general health, wellbeing and behaviour.

    Make sure staff know who to ask for advice, how and when to report any concerns about a resident’s oral health, and how changes in a person’s condition might affect their ability to manage their mouth care.

    For more information on Being CQC Ready in Oral Care we have attached a link to a Youtube training video by Knowledge Oral Health, which we hope you will also find useful. 

    If you have any questions or would like to discuss any of our fit for purpose oral health product solutions then please don’t hesitate to contact us on 01773 713713 or email us at [email protected]

  • Will you join us in helping to make every accessible toilet in the UK safer for disabled users?

    Red cords in accessible toilets are serious business and can help to save lives. They are there to provide a lifeline to allow disabled people to call for help in an emergency. Disabled toilets are often frequented by able bodied people, cleaners and parents using baby change tables and often the pull cord is tied out of the way, tied up or hidden behind a grab bar to allow the toilet floor to be mopped or it is tucked out of reach of children’s hands or viewed as a ‘nuisance’ to those unaware of its function. These actions leave disabled users at high risk of unnecessary injuries and distress.

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  • Discovering a garden which helps people who live with a Dementia.

    Jo at St. Catherine's House St Catherine’s House is a Grade 11 listed Victorian building set in beautiful parkland grounds in the heart of Doncaster.

    Within the grounds of St Catherine's House there is a very special garden which offers a wonderfully relaxed environment for people to take time out to enjoy the historic surroundings and unwind in the peace and tranquility Full of roses, lavender and wide pathways, The Community Dementia Garden is designed to appeal to each sense with fragrant flowers, tactile plants and even edible produce from the raised beds. The fountain provides movement and a focal point and there are seating areas to relax and enjoy the setting.

    The garden team is made up of a mix of staff, volunteers and people who need support to gain skills and confidence on their pathway to employment. And they have also introduced bird feeders to attract more birds into the garden whilst a wide selection of plants provide food for a variety of insects.

    All this combines to provide a space that can help spark memories for visitors who have a Dementia and thus help them to reconnect with the world around them and share their memories of gardens, plants and flowers. Maybe they will remember their own garden from home and reminisce about the enjoyment that it brought them, or perhaps they will recall visiting other gardens in great houses that brought them joy too.

    Gardening can be fun and a very therapeutic way of getting residents more active and engaged with their surroundings and, if offered as a group activity, can also help them to engage with other residents more often too.

    One of the beautiful scented lavender beds in The Walled Garden at St Catherine's House

    Although I don't personally have any first hand experience of Dementia, I was still able to appreciate this garden as a restful place for the soul, and I recommended Jo took advantage of it too, after she'd delivered her brilliant interactive talk on improving mealtimes for people who live with a dementia. In fact, this is also part of the garden’s aims, to be welcoming to the wider community, not just for people visiting who live with a Dementia and their carers. In the newly refurbished greenhouse and retail area you can purchase plants and fresh produce throughout the year.

    A new terrace area links the recently updated Cafe Flourish with the gardens, making for a perfect place to sit, relax and enjoy the tranquility whilst sampling their freshly prepared dishes using locally sourced produce, delicious cakes and specialty coffees and teas.

    My particular favourites were the alliums and the lavender, both of which I grow in my own garden at home.

    Do you offer a gardening space for your residents who live with with a Dementia? Or maybe a window box or raised bed with some paper windmills or even a garden gnome!? Growing your own herbs and vegetables can also be an option if you have a chef who wants to get involved.

    Safety and accessibility are important considerations when creating a garden for residents living with a Dementia but there are many physical, cognitive and social benefits.

    Admiral Nurse Dave talks here about some of the benefits:

    'Gardening can provide a fantastic opportunity for stimulation of all the senses. There are the sensations of touch – soil, flowers, bark (but mind the thorns!), and perhaps the feel of a gentle wind, of sun or rain. There is visual stimulation – an amazing range of colour and shapes, sunlight, as well as the wildlife a garden can offer. There are the smells of flowers and vegetables, of herbs or of a freshly mown lawn. And there are the sounds – birdsong, insects, and rustle of wind in trees; and of course, there is taste – eating fruit, vegetables, and even edible flowers such as nasturtiums or marigolds.'

    There’s also something very enriching about running fingers through soil.

    If you’re looking for a restful spot then I’d recommend this garden for a visit.

    Further reading on the benefits of gardening for your residents can be found here and here.

    Today's piece was written by Amy Purser who works with Jo and Hcsuk to bring our message to you.

    One of the many rose beds at St Catherine's House.

  • Discover how our new and innovative anti-choking device saved a resident’s life at Ashberry Healthcare

    We believe every care home in the UK should invest in our new and innovative anti-choking device LifeVac and there are some compelling reasons why, but first we wanted to share with you a real life story from Jackie Ricketts, who works at Ashberry Healthcare, about how LifeVac saved one of her residents’ lives:
    ‘The Ashberry Healthcare Limited Nursing Home I work in saw LifeVac advertised and it was purchased as we were interested to see what it was about as we lost a resident to choking before. It arrived in the building on a Friday afternoon.

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  • Discover how Hcsuk helped a Nottingham based outstanding care home bring the local community together.

    Landermeads Nursing Home, based in Chilwell in Nottingham, is a care home with a difference. Established in 1989, by Rob and Ros Heath, along with both sets of their parents, they are clearly very passionate about what they do and this shines very brightly in everything they do, within their philosophy of care, their fabulous team and the ‘family members’ they support.

    It all started in 1986 when Ros and Rob announced to their parents that they would like to open a small family run nursing home in which the people who lived there received the highest possible support. A year later Rob’s parents, Phyl and Barry, had sold their house and moved into a caravan in the car park of a building site which was to become Landermeads, and Ros’ parents, Margaret and Derek, had placed their trust and financial support in the dream.

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  • Discover ways of developing empathy to help impact your care business

    Today I want to talk to you about empathy, a word which is being used ever more frequently within the care industry. But what is empathy?

    The dictionary defines it as:

    ‘The ability to understand and share the feelings of others’ and given the nature of the work that we all do, helping to support those in our care, this is an invaluable tool for us.

    What’s got me really thinking about the value of empathy is that recently I had a personal experience which involved a business demonstrating empathy to me in a truly brilliant way.

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  • Exciting news! Introducing our new Healthcare Solutions Manager to you

    I am thrilled and delighted to announce that we have a brand new member of the Hcsuk team on board, Lucy Lynch, who started with us on Monday as our new Healthcare Solutions Manager.
    And here is Lucy providing a snapshot introduction for you:
    Hi, I’m Lucy and I’m excited to have been offered the opportunity to work within such a passionate and reputable company within the care industry. My passion for working in the care industry began when I cared for my Nan at the end of her life. I went on to gain 5 years experience working in care homes, starting as a Care Assistant, progressing to Senior Carer and then Deputy Manager, and achieving a Level 3 Diploma in Health and Social Care, NCFE Level 3 End of Life and NCFE Level 2 Safe Handling of Medication. I have also worked in management within a Private Ambulance Service and managed a project to improve CQC compliance, whilst ensuring the needs of the patients were at the forefront.
    Most recently I worked as a Branch Manager for a healthcare recruitment agency ensuring that the Nurses and Care assistants we supplied were of the best quality. I worked closely with Care Home Managers to ensure that we were supplying them with the most caring and qualified staff members.
    I enjoy working with a wide variety of people to achieve a common goal efficiently and realistically, and I’m looking forward to meeting our customers and being able to offer effective solutions for all your healthcare needs.
    When I’m not working I am a dog lover with a British Bulldog called Peggy, and I also enjoy reading factual based books and paranormal adventures!’
    It has been my vision for the last 12 months to expand our team with someone with Lucy’s skills and experience, someone who has experience of working in care, and has walked a mile in our customers’ shoes because I firmly believe that the empathy Lucy will be able to bring to her new role will add immeasurable value to our customers and impact the quality of the relationships we are able to build. In Lucy, we believe we have found someone who is able to truly empathise with the challenges care providers and managers face as they strive to deliver the best possible outcomes for the ladies and gents they support, whilst working towards improving compliance and CQC ratings
    Here at Hcsuk, we specialise in partnering with care homes to:
    Provide empathy, honest advice, a professional service and to deliver a complete package of innovative, quality and fit for purpose industry standard product solutions and services which are handpicked to help to improve the comfort, safety, dignity, independence and health and wellbeing of the ladies and gents you support.
    And we aim to add relevant value to our customers in all that we do, to enable you to also improve your standards and this includes sharing our 30 year industry knowledge and experience through best practice guides, audits, bespoke and individual equipment assessments, hosting workshops on key topics with industry professionals and much much more!
    We are proud to have established an excellent reputation in the industry and enjoy strong and loyal relationships with our current customers, and Lucy will be here to nurture these relationships, by dedicating herself to take care of and support you, to ensure you are receiving the high levels of customer service we pride ourselves on.
    We are not here just to sell a product, we want to get under the skin of our customers and demonstrate real understanding of the environment, your challenges, and what is your reality. Only then can we understand how best we can serve you.
    Lucy has good knowledge and understanding of the main symptom of conditions people in care homes are living with ie Dementia, stroke, MS, MND, end of life, Dysphagia, Parkinson’s, Huntingdon’s and will be able to advise on and recommend fit for purpose product solutions we provide which can have a positive impact on the quality of life for the ladies and gents you support.
    Lucy’s prior knowledge and understanding of CQC’s KLOE’s we believe will also be key to how what we do can help to impact positive ratings for our customers.
    As well as her experience, Lucy also
    Has a genuine passion to make a difference to peoples’ lives
    Can demonstrate empathy both for those of you who work in care, and the ladies and gents yo support, living with different conditions.
    Takes pride in the quality of the work she does
    Is professional, personable and approachable
    Possesses a good sense of humour
    Is reliable and dependable
    Is enthusiastic, hard working and committed.
    Has good listening and communication skills
    Is a good problem solver
    Lucy will be starting to venture out very soon to meet you all and has a new, exciting and innovative product she will be talking to you about, to help you improve your residents’ safety and reduce the risks of choking.
    If you have any questions, enquiries or anything Lucy can help you with right now, then please don’t hesitate to contact her on her mobile number: 07968 994660, direct dial 01773 532586 or by email [email protected] Otherwise Lucy looks forward to meeting you all soon.

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  • How to reduce the risks of choking for the people you support with Dysphagia, and details of a NEW innovative new anti choking product which 1880 UK care homes have already invested in.


    June is Dysphagia Awareness month and so all month we have been focusing on different ways we can help you if you are supporting people with Dysphagia. 

    Today we are talking about choking, how to reduce the risks of choking, some general advice to support people to eat safely - 

    And an innovative new anti choking device.

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