CARE HOMES in Bolton are proving that sharing really is caring when it comes to the elderly.

A scheme to promote excellence in the town has helped spawn a creative atmosphere.

NURSING and care homes in Bolton are signed up to an excellence scheme which encourages them to work towards great care and also to share good ideas between themselves.

The Care Home Excellence Reward Scheme offers a financial incentive to homes meeting the mark of £10-15 per resident per week.

Care homes receive their funding from the council and nursing homes are boosted thanks to Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group.

Hazelbrook Christian Nursing Home in Horwich was really pleased to be part of the scheme.

Julie Cunningham, who works at the Albert Street care home said their approach to care excellence was making sure residents did not get stuck in a rut.

Recently they have been working on a summer house for the residents.

Mrs Cunningham said: "Our summer house is really good, one week we dressed it up as an old fashioned pub.

"One week it can be a pub and another it can be a cinema. It fits four or five at a time."

Hazelbrook, which cares for 35 residents, secured the funding for the summer house from Bolton Council and as part of their group session with other care homes, manager Alison Harvey was able to share tips for applying.

Mrs Cunningham said: "Alison was part of a meeting, all the care homes get together and share different ideas. She was able to tell them about us applying.

"Someone else there got an idea for a sensory garden with lots of different smelling herbs."

Mrs Cunningham explained the extra funding from the reward scheme had helped them fund more staff, including two new activity co-ordinators.

These new members of staff are able to work with residents daily.

Extra staff are also able to work one on one with the residents.

Mrs Cunningham said: "It gives more time and they have been able to do quite a lot of training."

In the past the care home brought ducklings into the home for the residents to care for.

Residents and staff at Hazelbrook enjoyed the sight of the eggs hatching, and watching the newly hatched ducklings grow. After a short time, from the comfort of their chairs in the lounge, the residents could hold the little birds and see them grow.

Mrs Cunningham said at the time: "They love watching them swimming in the paddling pool and they love to hold them and stroke their fluffy feathers."

Residential dementia home Hyde Lea in Sharples Park, Bolton is also part of the council's excellence reward scheme.

Home manager Rosalind Turner was also enthusiastic about the excellence scheme and being able to share ideas between homes.

She said: "It was like a get together and we were all able to form a bond. We can phone each other up if we need to and that's working quite well.

"As part of care excellence we have meetings and regular updates.

"I think Bolton Council have done a lot now to improve with the CCG and I just think it's better than ever."

Hyde Lea is one of the top care homes in Bolton, it has an "outstanding" rating for its care from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Ms Turner believes that is down to their person-centred approach.

She said: "We know they are all individuals and we talk to their families and learn about the person themselves."

The care excellence scheme is aimed at care homes of all kinds, not just for the elderly.

It asks that homes submit monthly data returns to the council and demonstrate their improvements each year.

It tells homes they should look to innovate and collaborate and learning from each other while providing "high quality care".

A round up of care homes in Bolton published in The Bolton News last week showed that 80 per cent of care homes were rated "good" by the CQC.