Exemplar Acquires First Ever Huntington’s Disease Care Accreditation In England

Fairburn Mews in Castleford, West Yorkshire, has become the first care home in England to be accredited by the Huntington’s Disease Association (HDA). The Exemplar Health Care home which provides specialist nursing care to adults with complex needs has been recognised for its specialist care for service users with the disease.

Huntington’s Disease is a condition caused by a faulty gene that results in part of the brain becoming gradually damaged over time and symptoms usually appear when an individual is between 30 and 50 years of age.

The home has provided care for service users with the disease for 14 years but until last month, there wasn’t a recognised accreditation scheme that provided standardised quality assurance for patients and families affected by the illness. Keen to address this, The Huntington’s Disease Association embarked on a ten-month collaboration with Fairburn Mews and a second care provider in Wales to build a scheme that all care homes can work towards.

Euan Craig, CEO of Exemplar Health Care said: “We’re delighted that our Fairburn Mews care home is now certified to provide a nationally-recognised ‘gold standard’ of care for people with Huntington’s disease.

“Over 100 residents with the disease live in Exemplar homes. People with Huntington’s disease need lots of support – and we’re so proud the home is now the very first home in England accredited to provide this.”

Taking the initiative

Exemplar has always had a strong relationship with the Huntington’s Disease Association, a registered charity which works to improve care and support services for people with Huntington’s, educate families and professionals and champion people’s rights. It is the only charity in the UK dedicated to helping people affected by the illness live better lives.

With the joint objective of creating the accreditation, the HDA worked closely with a second care home provider as well as Exemplar over a period of ten months to build a scheme that care homes across the country could work towards achieving.

In order for this process to happen, Exemplar provided funding for a project manager that would work impartially to formulate the scheme. Liaising with Exemplar representatives in England and a second care provider in Wales, the project manager collated insights from both homes that would define this CQC-style Huntington’s Disease accreditation.

Helen Baxendale, Clinical Director at Exemplar was involved in the accreditation process, alongside Home Manager Karen Neal. She said: “Our specialist care providers have a broad and in-depth understanding of what it’s like to work with Huntington’s Disease service users. The project manager was able to gather these first-hand insights to formulate an accreditation scheme that is entirely reflective of these realities.”

Rubber stamped by the HDA, the HDA Quality Assured accreditation status was finalised and launched last month and is now available for specialist care providers across the UK to attain.

Reaching the gold standard

Despite its close involvement in building the accreditation, Exemplar was not exempt from the stringent checks required to acquire the status for its own home.

Fairburn Mews in Castleford, one of Exemplar’s specialist Huntington’s Disease care homes with 20 beds, went through a rigorous four-month assessment period in order to gain its new status.

Karen Neal, Fairburn Mews’ Home Manager, said: “We are incredibly proud to have been given the HDA’s accreditation. It is testament to the hard work and commitment of our staff in supporting service users and their families affected by Huntington’s Disease, and it is a really positive move to know that other homes can attain the same quality assurance.”

The assessment required the care home team, families and services users to complete detailed questionnaires. Feedback from these – along with a two-day on-site inspection – was attributed to the home’s high standards.

Fairburn Mews continues to be a dedicated supporter of the HDA and holds regular fundraising events for the charity.

Only a small number of homes a year will be able to attain the HDA Quality Assured accreditation and every two years, accredited homes will be required to re-accredit in order to ensure standards are continuously maintained.

Bill Crowder, Head of the Advisory Service at the Huntington’s Disease Association said: “The programme plays a vital role in identifying the behaviours, cultures and specialist services required for a care home to specialise in caring for people affected by the disease.

“The accreditation is a way for those care homes who invest significant time, resources and commitment in specialist care, to show the Huntington’s community the benchmarked standards of care they offer. We are delighted to be able to launch the scheme and look forward to seeing many more homes achieve these standards.”