A new home for Athena Care

Our live-in care company, Athena Care, has this week relocated from their Leicester base to Redhill in Surrey. Building on their existing high quality care, the move allows our live-in care teams to expand into new areas, including Surrey, Sussex and Berkshire.

Through expansion of Athena Care’s service, we can also offer group customers more options during the coronavirus pandemic. Live-in care allows vulnerable people who may otherwise need to move into a care home to stay in their own homes with a regular care team – minimising their contact with others.

If you know of any of our existing clients in the area that may benefit from a live-in service in the near future, you can contact the team at enquiries@athenacare.co.uk or call them on 0800 234 6306

Uber Eats and Care Provider Alliance discounts for care workers

The Care Provider Alliance has partnered with Uber Eats to provide discounts on food deliveries for social care staff during the coronavirus outbreak.

Staff can access the deal by joining the CPA 10% DISCOUNT Uber Eats account – you can find out more here.

A thank you for Advance Healthcare UK’s angels

Lorraine Fennell, General Manager at Advance Healthcare UK in Willenhall, let us know about heartfelt message she’d received this week. The family of a late service user wanted to express just how much of difference the team had made to the lives of their parents:

“To all the Staff at Advance Healthcare – special mention to Megan, Katie, Natalie and Carly. You ladies went above and beyond for my mum, and also my dad, they both loved seeing you ladies daily.

“Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

The family also included a hand-written poem, titled ‘Angels Without Wings’

Thank you for sharing Lorraine.

Recognition for social care staff from the NHS in Leeds

Leaders from NHS Trusts across Leeds, as well as the Chief Executive of Leeds City Council, recently wrote to social care teams in the area thanking them for their support through the coronavirus pandemic. Our teams in the area were included and recognised for helping to minimise the impact on health services:

“This has been an extraordinary year. And it has called for an extraordinary effort by colleagues working across all our organisations, and within the community and voluntary sector. We want to say thank you for your dedication and contribution to the Leeds response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For those working in health and care, usually at this time of year our attention turns to managing so-called ‘winter pressures’ and the impact these have on our services, our patients and ourselves. This year is no different in some respects but, of course, so much is different.

“We have seen so much change in our health and social care system in Leeds over the last few months. Never have we had to work so flexibly; so intensely; so together. Thanks to you we’ve kept services running for our patients, our citizens and our communities. And we also thank you for looking after each other too.

“We do not know what the next couple of months will look like. Here in Leeds, or indeed across the country. We know it’s going to be tough and we know that thought is one that affects many of us.

“Right now is a time for us to remind all of you to continue to take care of your own health and wellbeing. We will get through this thanks to your support but your safety will always be our top priority. Please look after yourselves first and foremost.

“We cannot do this without you.”

Raising spirits in extra care

Our Comfort Call teams at the Astley Court and Monica Court Extra Care schemes got into the spirit of Halloween this year by dressing up in ghoulish outfits and sharing spooky treats with residents. Joanne Brennan, Regional Manager – North West and West Yorkshire, shared some great photos of the event.

Mental health and money worries

Over recent years, one of the main causes of stress in the UK has been money worries. The stress that money problems bring with them can make you vulnerable to anxiety and depression. This in turn can affect your sleep, social life and relationships and lead to feelings of isolation.

Poor mental health can make earning and managing money harder, and worrying about money can make your mental health worse. It can start to feel like a vicious circle.

Sorting your money troubles might feel like an overwhelming task, so why not try to take things one-step at a time.

Taking control of your mental health is a vital part of managing your financial wellbeing and a great first step. Why not try the following techniques to improve your mental health:

  • Build your resilience – exercise regularly, eat healthy and get proper rest.
  • Keep your mood positive – keep in contact with others and fill your spare time with activities you enjoy.
  • Know your worry triggers –  plan ways to manage them, e.g. don’t watch the news if you worry about economic crisis.
  • Recognise warning signs – do you turn to alcohol, or feel overwhelmed.
  • Practice relaxation techniques – helps you to clear your mind of worrying thoughts.

For City & County staff, check out the resources available on the LifeWorks app and website, to support with money worries. Helpful articles include:

  • Coping with Money Worries
  • How to deal with Financial Insecurity and Debt Stress
  • Money and Your Mind: Taking care of your finances and mental health

Please also remember you can call LifeWorks 24/7, on 0800 1691920 for immediate confidential support to help you cope with your money worries.

In addition, the charity Mind has a money and mental health section on its website, which shares practical tips on managing your money and improving your mental health.

Next Week – Debt Management

Feeling more in control of your financial situation helps set your mind at ease. To do this, you need to move away from worrying to problem solving instead. Next week we will look at practical ways to tackle debt problems.

Appointment of Head of Private Pay and Live In

We are pleased to confirm Sarah Thomas’s appointment as Head of Private Pay and Live In from Thursday 1st October. This is a new role, focused on developing our service offering in these two important areas.

We plan to develop our private pay offer predominantly through Live In, where Sarah already leads our operating company Athena Care. Sarah will also use her wide care-sector experience to help grow the private pay service we currently deliver through our branch network.

As a result of this change, our regional managers Milka Kimani and Karin Lockhart will now report to Sarah Kwofie. Sarah Kwofie is looking forward to welcoming the new teams to her region.

We wish Sarah all the best for this exciting opportunity, and we’re sure that you will all welcome her into this new role.

City & County welcomes total Community Care Limited

We’re pleased to announce that on 22nd September we completed the purchase of Total Community Care Limited (TCC).

Based in Leicester, TCC is a complex care business providing specialist care for individuals living with spinal cord injuries or neurological conditions. The TCC team manage more than 60 complex care packages for CCGs across England, delivered to clients in their own home.

Running alongside our existing complex care brands, ICCM and SCP Complex, TCC will help build City & County’s position as one of the UK’s leading complex care providers.

We look forward to sharing more information about TCC and their work in the coming weeks.

Gifts of thanks to our care teams

It’s always amazing to see our teams recognised by the families of people we care for and our partner organisations. Even a small ‘thank you’ helps us remember just how big an impact we can make on the lives of our service users. This week were contacted by two of our service managers about gifts that teams had received in recognition of their work.

Firstly Nkeiru Amatobi, registered manager at Danbury Gardens Extra Care Scheme in Leicester, got in touch. The Help at Home staff at the scheme were gifted hot drinks, chocolates and biscuits by the local housing team at Anchor Hanover in thanks for their hard work and support during the lockdown.

Sam Johnson, deputy manager for Guardian Homecare in Blackburn with Darwen also contacted us after the team were given no less than eight tubs of Celebrations!

“The family of a service user who has now passed away brought these in for the double up team in Darwen,” Sam told us. “The family wanted to give a ‘thank you’ for all their hard work and for making the service user’s life a lot happier whilst having care from us.”

Thank you both for sharing. If your service has recently received a thank you gift or message from anyone we care for then please let us know.

Clapping for Carers Really Does Mean Carers

When we “clap for carers”, it is not just for those in the NHS; it is a collective thank you from the nation to all our social care workforce across the country too for the sacrifices they make every day”

In the last post, we asked whether this crisis would, finally, bring carers the recognition they deserve. Many of you and your teams have already shared heart-warming stories of support from the public and businesses across the country. There are strong signs of more formal recognition for the sector from the country’s leaders.

The government’s “Action Plan for Adult Social Care,” published last month, includes the quote at the top of this post. It reminds everyone that adult social care “is one of the most important ways we can help support people to stay well, as independent as possible, and connected with families and communities in such difficult times.”

It’s just a report, for now. But if even some of the plans and recommendations are put into action – many are already underway – then it is really good news. It could have a long-lasting, positive effect on how adult social care is viewed, supported and rewarded.

The “Care” brand (see left) is being formalised and promoted to sit alongside the familiar NHS logo, in order to ensure that carers feel just as valued as their counterparts. That should make it easier for you and your teams to access benefits available to health workers.

Of course, a badge isn’t enough (though it is an important symbol). But the Action Plan also includes more money (over £3.2 billion has been committed to adult social care in the last weeks), better coordination across community health, GP and social care services, and goals for more organised PPE provision and distribution (still in woefully short supply).

There’s a nationwide recruitment drive, too. The idea is to attract 20,000 more people into social care in the next three months. Hopefully, that may mean that fewer of you feel under pressure to work over-time to support your clients. There are also guidelines for how care providers can access the groundswell of volunteers that have signed up to help health and care workers. There are 750,000 such Volunteer Responders! These individuals may not be able or qualified to provide actual care, as you do, but they can help with some of the additional tasks, like shopping, friendly calls, and errands that so many of you are going out of your way to provide.

As this pandemic continues, it is increasingly clear that the entire nation’s thoughts really are with you, your teams, and the many thousands of vulnerable, and often lonely, people that you care for.

“Those working in social care are heroes on the frontline of the response too. We must ensure that social care gets the recognition and parity of esteem that it deserves. An important legacy of this crisis must be the value that we place on social care as an essential service, core to delivering the frontline response to this crisis, and to ensure everyone understands that people who work in social care are key workers, in every sense.” 

Those are, surely, encouraging words.