Lavinia Tanu grew up with respect for the elderly, a quality she brings to her role every day as a senior carer.
“I feel really safe when Lavinia is around. She’s part of the furniture, and I mean that in the most positive sense,” says Pablo Vilar, Care Home Manager at Balhousie Pitlochry care home.
It’s a sentiment shared among the care home’s staff and residents too. Lavinia Tanu has been on the staff since the care home opened 10 years ago. Now a senior carer, what she doesn’t know about the residents probably isn’t worth knowing.
Growing up in Romania with an ailing mother and in the company of her grandparents, it was natural that Lavinia choose a career in care. She began studying nursing at university, but switched to business management.
A move to the UK meant she had to begin again, and she knocked on the door of Balhousie Pitlochry just as it opened 10 years ago. She applied for a cleaning job but the then manager, seeing her potential and hearing about her nursing studies, offered her a temporary role as a care assistant. Within six weeks, Lavinia was permanent.
There are 50 residents at Balhousie Pitlochry, part of the 25-strong Balhousie Care Group. The care home includes a specialised dementia unit. Residents’ needs are being assessed continuously by the care team – from food and drink requirements to medication.
Lavinia takes Balhousie Care Group’s person-centred philosophy seriously. From daily greetings to administering medication to helping serve dinner, Lavinia’s personalised approach and thorough knowledge of the home’s operations is part of what makes Balhousie Pitlochry tick. Her upbringing in Romania, where it is customary for grandparents to live in a family home, and where respect for elders is strong, is part of what makes Lavinia so successful as a carer and so popular among colleagues, residents and family members. Her business studies skills are the cherry on top.
It is Lavinia’s role to not just oversee other care staff, but to administer medication, check prescriptions and work in partnership with the local GP. Says Pablo: “It’s important, too, that there is a holistic approach to our residents’ care and support. Noticing the subtle changes and knowing the individual’s entire medical, social and psychological history is the difference between providing care and providing excellent care, and for Lavinia that comes naturally. Plus, she forgets nothing!”
Lavinia admits her standards are high: “I want everything to be perfect and sometimes that can mean I appear a little strong-minded!” Along the way she has been studying, acquiring an SVQ Level 3 in Social Care.
As a transplant, and living away from her Romanian family, Lavinia relates to the care home residents’ situation. “They’re being looked after but still, they’re not with their family. It’s our job to be that family to them, and to show them respect while we do. They and their relatives entrust us to do that.”
Today’s care homes are not just about trust and security, they’re also about promoting independence and ensuring that residents live as self-sufficiently as possible, she says. “It’s about giving them the latitude. We’re here to help but we want to see them living their lives.”
With her extensive knowledge of the home, and the relationships she has built, it’s natural that Lavinia has become a well-respected mentor too. “Lavinia is like the ‘google’ of Balhousie,” says
Aimee Brown, a Senior Care Assistant with Balhousie Pitlochry. “She able to provide any and all information needed about all the residents in the home, and for the staff she can explain things step by step and is always the first to offer support.”