CHAT column, March 2019

First published in John O’Groat Journal in March 2019

Recently I visited Bayview House in Thurso and met up with the manager Claire and her assistants Anita and Donalda.

The first thing that struck me is why was a home for the elderly built on three floors? Who designed it and who gave it the go ahead?

When opened in 1995 the plan was that residents would eat, sleep and meet only those on their own floor but staff changed that so now residents can mingle and everyone can eat in the dining area and socialise in the meeting rooms.

Working between three floors is challenging for staff, especially when they have to move heavy equipment around. There is a lift but it is quite small and most residents have to be accompanied when going from one level to another. As residents’ needs increase, staff skills have also increased.

Bayview is quite unique in that it is a residential care home that also has two Day Care Centres, one run by the Local Authority for up to 20 folk and the other, the Couthie Corner, run by Alzheimers Scotland, catering for up to ten people with Dementia.

There is residential accommodation for twenty-two people with one additional room for Respite Care. (Personally, I think there should be far more respite care available in the county and that is one thing we will be pushing for when the bed numbers are being discussed for the proposed new Health Care Hubs).

Incidentally, staff tell me they are excited about the prospect of moving to a new purpose built Care Home at the proposed new Hub at Dunbar.

Interestingly, rooms in Bayview, as with all NHS Highland care homes, are allocated by Social Work personnel from a placement department in Inverness.

At the moment throughout the county there appears to be a shortage of beds of all kinds and again this is something CHAT will be highlighting during discussions on bed numbers.

The staff at Bayview have a great relationship with the residents, noticing straight away if something is not right and a nurse or doctor will be called.

A local doctor visits every two weeks and an Advanced Nurse Practitioner visits every week.

There is no shortage of visitors to Bayview. Three days a week the “Dolly Trolley”  as it’s called, comes around. This is a trolley run by RVS containing various items for the residents to purchase. This is an important service which allows the residents the independence of doing their own shopping.

Pet Therapy dogs are brought in regularly and are very popular, as are the small ponies that come wearing their special shoes and “nappies”.

The PEEPS group consisting of babies up to a year old comes along and the residents love holding and interacting with the children.

The befrienders from Thurso High school also drop in and both they and the residents get a lot from the visits.

Volunteers arrange regular quizzes, bingo sessions and musical events. The local Accordion and Fiddle group also come along and play.

Hairdressers regularly pop in and there are plans for beauty students from North Highland College to offer the residents relaxing hand and foot massages.

All in all it’s another great example of a NHS Highland facility that is well run by dedicated, caring and hard-working staff.

Ron Gunn
Vice Chair Chat