It's all steam ahead at Lakeland Care in 2018 as we continue to build on our long experience to develop new service offerings and exceed market expectations. Whilst we are always taking every opportunity to refurbish, redecorate and renew with the replacement of baths for wet room showers in en suite bathrooms for example, we are also now putting a programme in place to ensure that our staff take more of a key role in driving forward our care and quality standards. 
A key part of this initiative will be to give all staff, Carers and Support Staff alike, the opportunity if they so wish to take on more responsibility for ensuring the best of practice in key areas of care and 'hotel' services. Our plan is to draw from the staffing groups of each Home to create 'Champions' or 'Ambassadors of Excellence' for individual key areas of care and safety. In addition to our established mandatory training that maintains practice updates in all key areas, these 'Champions' will be expected to take a lead role in passing on their knowledge and expertise to colleagues in their specialist areas. One innovation with regard to infection control involves the supply of 'Bug Busting' hand washing points that use ultraviolet scanners to check for correct hand washing procedures. 
One area of direct relevance to everyone whether living in a care home or not is of course nutrition and hydration. This week, 12th-19th March, is National Nutrition and Hydration Week. Nutrition and Hydration Week aims to highlight, promote and celebrate improvements in the provision of nutrition and hydration locally, nationally and globally. Along with placing a poster in the foyers of each Home to draw the attention of everybody to this essential area, each day we will be offering either a different refreshing drink or tasty, healthy nibbles to residents and visitors. 
Lakeland Care will be introducing Manager Forums which will be held two or three times a year to help provide the opportunity for our managers to get together to discuss common issues and to share good practice with each other. 
We will also be looking to increase the active involvement of our residents in developments in service provision and in the general facilities and physical environments provided by our Homes. We will be introducing 'Tasting Panels' to help update menus, and we will also explore the levels of interest that there might be for enhancing family hospitality and entertainment areas. For example, at Holmewood in Cockermouth, we will be adding a bar area where residents can relax with visitors and enjoy a quiet drink together. 
In the course of the next two months we will also be replacing our minibus with a state of the art vehicle, in time for a full Summer programme of outings and excursions. 
We look forward to announcing more updates over the coming months as we strive to ensure that our Homes play an essential part in their local communities, and can be regarded by everybody, whether residents or not, as a key community asset for the benefit of all.