Award-winning seafarers’ nursing care home, Belvedere House of the Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society, has launched an innovative training scheme to help staff better understand the life experiences of their residents and enable them to tailor care provision to best suit residents’ needs.
The programme, which was the brain child of Chief Executive Commander Brian Boxall-Hunt, aims to help staff deal with residents’ more challenging behaviour and understand the reasons and causes behind the more complex behavioural manifestations some of the most vulnerable, former seafaring residents present.
The training included a visit to the Chatham historical dockyard with tours of the wartime destroyer HMS Cavalier and the diesel powered submarine HMS Ocelot from the “Cold War” era. The visit was supported by some of the Society’s former seafaring tenants, including perspectives of both Royal and Merchant Navies, giving staff an insight into several lives at sea.
Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society Chief Executive, Commander Brian Boxall-Hunt said: “It is crucial for our staff to understand the experiences of our residents during a lifetime at sea. As a retired Royal Navy officer, I am able to relate to our residents on a unique level, understanding their needs, motivations and quirks.
“To help all of our staff understand the needs of our residents in the same way, we developed and implemented a training programme specifically aimed at improving their understanding of life at sea and thus the needs of those who choose to spend their later years with us.”
Some of the many difficulties experienced during a career at sea such as cramped and sparse accommodation, extensive separation from families and often harsh working conditions are known to potentially lead to both physical and psychological problems in retirement. Through this targeted training, staff experienced first-hand the living conditions aboard ships, and gained an understanding of residents’ reactions and behaviour that may have been affected by their careers and living conditions at sea.
The Royal Alfred has provided care and accommodation support to elderly, sick or disabled seafarers, as well as their widows and dependants, since 1865. The purpose-built nursing care home is situated within 14 acres of leafy Surrey countryside and offers a full range of on-site services and accommodation, including nursing, respite and specialised dementia care and sheltered flats – which avoid the need for residents and couples to be apart or to transfer to other homes as their needs change.