What the new changes in COVID restrictions mean for us

A high number of our service users and a significant proportion of our staff are in higher risk groups in relation to the impact of COVID infection. While the general restrictions for the public may be relaxing, our legal and ethical duties to protect you and our service users do not disappear.

With the virus again spreading at speed, self-isolation rules still in place, and a general shortage of new staff, we cannot afford to have high levels of absence as we go into the summer – the continuity of services depends on you and your colleagues keeping well and at work.

In view of the above, we have taken the difficult decision that there will be very little change at this stage in terms of how we ensure COVID safety at work: 

PPE and infection control in care delivery

There are no changes planned in the government guidance on infection control and the use of PPE in care services and no changes to our policies at this time. Care workers and other front-line staff must continue to:

–          Practice regular handwashing and use face masks, gloves and aprons whilst delivering care;

–          Wear masks when sharing vehicles travelling between service users’ homes;

–          Undertake routine lateral flow and PCR testing (both of which remain free to care staff) as directed by management;

–          Notify their manager of their vaccine status;

–          Wear a mask or face covering when they visit the office.

PPE in live-in care

There is a slight change on the guidance on PPE in live-in care services as Public Health England        has updated its guidance on PPE for homecare in England to include a new section on live-in care (here).

Managers who are delivering live-in care should read the whole document, but a key point is that the guidance specifies that care workers living with a service user for long periods will be considered part of the household and as such will not need to wear PPE whilst doing domestic duties unless anyone in the household is known to have COVID-19 or is displaying symptoms.

PPE must still be worn for personal care, however, and live-in care workers are subject to the same rules on self-isolation as everyone else in the event that they develop symptoms or test positive for the virus.

COVID-Secure practices in offices

Managers must review their COVID-Secure office risk assessment (seeking assistance from hse@candchealthcare.co.uk as required) to ensure that they remain up to date and fit for purpose. Staff in offices must continue to:

–          Practice regular handwashing and cleaning regimes;

–          Maintain social distancing – (social distancing in training rooms may now be reduced to “1m+” providing trainees are wearing a face covering and other control measures, such as fully open windows are in place);

–          Wear a face covering when sharing a workspace with others;

–          Observe all other risk control measures, such as ventilation.

  • Managers must continue to keep collecting and submitting their COVID-19 data, both internally and externally as appropriate, and including information on vaccine uptake. However, please note that managers in support services (i.e. locations other than branches and Extra Care sites) are not required to maintain vaccination data on their staff.
  • All staff must continue to observe the rules on self-isolation if they have COVID-19 symptoms, test positive, or are otherwise directed to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace. (This requirement is set to change in mid-August for those that are double-vaccinated).

We echo the words of Prime Minister Boris Johnson in relation to individual responsibility. We can impose policies and rules at work, but we cannot control what you do in your own time. However, we would remind you that if you work in a role that means you will be coming into contact with people who may be unvaccinated or otherwise particularly vulnerable to coronavirus, as most of you do, you have a duty as a citizen to act responsibly to protect others. We urge you, in every aspect of your life, to:

  • Be sensible and risk-aware;
  • Get fully vaccinated and take advantage of regular free testing;
  • Avoid situations and places where large numbers of people are gathering without precautions, especially indoors, and consider continuing to wear a face covering in such spaces and on public transport;
  • Respect the fact that many people are still frightened about the prospects of catching the virus.

As ever, we will keep all the above under review and let you know if and when policies change.

Travel restrictions and quarantine – a reminder

From 4am on 19th July, the government is dropping its recommendation against travel to amber list countries. Arrivals who have been fully vaccinated with an NHS-administered vaccine in the UK (plus 14 days to allow for the vaccine to become effective), or are on a formally approved UK vaccine clinical trial, returning to England from amber list countries will no longer need to quarantine.

Passengers will need to provide proof of their vaccination status to travel carriers in advance of travel. Pre-departure testing, and day 2 (PCR) testing measures are to remain. Children under the age of 18 will be exempt from quarantine on returning to England from amber countries.

We urge everyone considering overseas travel at present to carefully consider the risks and to plan accordingly, and to be reminded of our policy on self- isolation following travel see below.

Rules on self-isolation following travel

Operations and Central Support Teams
If you travel to a country where you are required to self-isolate upon return and you are able to work from home, you may do so for the required period of quarantine. However, if you test positive for COVID-19 during this period of isolation and you are unable to work, then our SSP policy will apply.

If you are required to self-isolate upon return and you are unable to carry out your role from home, then your period of isolation should be taken as annual leave, or unpaid leave. However, if you test positive for COVID-19 during this period of isolation and you are unable to work, then our SSP policy will apply.

Care workers
Care workers required to self-isolate upon return should take annual leave, or unpaid leave for the required period of self-isolation. However, if they test positive for COVID-19 during this period of isolation and they are unable to work, then our SSP policy will apply.

Welcome to our new Director of Complex Care, Jonathan Byrd

This week we welcome Jonathan Byrd to the City & County family. Jonathan will be leading the team at our recently formed complex care operating division.

Aligning our complex care businesses to better support our customers and frontline services – as well as set us up for future growth – has meant looking at the structure of the support functions across all of our brands and identifying changes that will make the most of our shared experience and skills. We’re thrilled that Jonathan will be on board to oversee these improvements as Director of Complex Care.

Jonathan’s last role was with Ramsay Healthcare UK where, as Group Projects Director, he led on major strategic business transformation projects including acquisitions and corporate reputational risk. With over 30 years’ experience in healthcare, Jonathan’s knowledge of our sector will be vital in the shaping of the Complex Care Division. Welcome Jonathan!

Podcast part two – CQC strategy 2021

Last week, we provided you with a link to Anthony Collins Solicitors’ podcast on the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) new strategy for how it regulates health and social care in England.

You can now listen to part two here.

The first part is also still available here

Contract Wins

We’ve been awarded a platform agreement for Homecare, Respite and Sitting services as Custom Care – Cannock, as part of the Staffordshire County Council contract.

Thank you to Nicky Tucker and Ellie Cross, and everyone involved in the bid for their work securing it.

We’ve also been successful with the same platform agreement for Homecare with HSG – Stoke on Trent with Staffordshire County Council. Thanks to everyone involved for their great work on this bid, with special mentions to Helen Dale, David Percox and Cat Starr for their time and effort.

Congratulations Paul!

Paul Kershaw, our North West region Training Officer, has accepted an offer from the Greater Manchester Police Inspector and Mayor Andy Burnham to be part of the newly formed Independent Community Scrutiny Panel Committee (ICSP.)

This voluntary role will scrutinise Greater Manchester Police’s stop and search processes and powers with the Committee’s findings feeding into the Force’s Equality and Diversity policy. Well done Paul!

Wonderful Wembley photos

Sadly for England fans, it didn’t come home, but our teams still made the most of England’s appearance in the final of the Euros.

One of our Regional Managers, Juliana Inegbese, let us know about how the service users at Bristol Court in Hounslow enjoyed the match. Juliana told us that they all had a fabulous time – they certainly look like they are enjoying themselves.

Karen Stevenson, our Accounts Administrator, also told us about her her weekend in Wembley.

Karen and her son Ben were lucky enough to get tickets for the Final last Sunday and they decided to make a weekend of it. Karen, who is a steward at Derby County Football Club, was taken aback by the positive atmosphere. Karen explains, ‘….for all the bad publicity for various reasons, there was plenty of good and beautiful, amazing people on and off the pitch.’

A reminder on travel restrictions and quarantine

Following further updates from the government on travel restrictions and quarantine, please remember our policy on self-isolation upon returning to the UK.

Any staff in operations and central support teams who travel to a country where you are required to self-isolate upon return, if you are able to work from home you may do so for the required period of quarantine. However, if you test positive for COVID-19 during this period of isolation and you are unable to work, then our SSP policy will apply.

If you are required to self-isolate upon return and you are unable to carry out your role from home, then your period of isolation should be taken as annual leave, or unpaid leave. However, if you test positive for COVID-19 during this period of isolation and you are unable to work, then our SSP policy will apply.

We urge everyone considering overseas travel at present to carefully consider the risks and to plan accordingly.

Time is running out to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme

We’ve recently sent our reminders on our weekly communications regarding the applying for the EU Settlement Scheme.  

If you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen and if you haven’t already done so already, then please don’t forget to apply for the scheme. You’ll need to make an application to continue living in the UK and the deadline date is 30 June 2021, which isn’t long.

Please click on this link to apply as soon as you can. Applications are free of charge.

Once you’ve received your response with settled or pre-settled status, please provide your share code to the HR department. The main contact for this is Rochelle.Jackson@candchealthcare.co.uk

We look forward to hearing from you with your share codes.

Getting out and about for Dementia Action Week

Maria Gerardo, Day Centre Coordinator at the Pullen Day Centre, has sent us some fabulous pictures of the centre’s activities with service users during Dementia Action Week.

The London Care team had originally planned for a garden tea party to bring their service users together, but sadly the British weather had other ideas. So, instead, the team went out into to visit their clients and the community through the week.

The first picture is of our service User Norman, who was talking and reminiscing about Pimlico – which is where the day centre is based. Norman and his care worker, Bisi, went through a book with all the different places around Pimlico, comparing how it looked then compared to now. Norman and Bisi also shared a sensory activity where you have to smell and touch an item and guess what it is.

Next we have Tina, who took our lovely client Rosemary out for a stroll. They visited a number of parks around Pimlico and discussed how much they have changed since Rosemary has lived there.

Finally, Marlene took Ms Joly around Dolphin square where they visited the shops inside the building. After their walk, they even sang some of Ms Joly’s favourite songs to help her reminisce.

Thanks for sharing Maria, it’s great to see our clients being able to get out and about as COVID-19 restrictions ease. We hope they had a great time visiting old memories.

Welcome to our new branch and scheme managers

There are some new faces that you’ll be getting to know across the branches and schemes at City & County. We’d like to offer a warm welcome to our new managers, who you’ll get to work with over the coming months.

Across our Extra Care schemes, we’ve recently been joined by Louise Hogan who covers Jackson Gardens and Bailey Court in Knowsley, and Edward Amissah at Bristol Court. We’ve also had a new arrival, Louise Witwit, who will be managing multiple schemes across the Liverpool area – Links View, Meadow Court, Millachip Court and Latham Court.

At our homecare branches, we’d also like to welcome Sussana Ansah in Crayford, Vicki Kinder in Tameside, Mel Bartley in Nottingham and Stuart Archer in Plymouth to the City & County family. We look forward to getting to know you all.

A Model Branch milestone

This Monday we reached a huge milestone for the Model Branch programme, with our final homecare site being transferred from CareFree rostering system to the Model Branch. This takes us to an impressive 112 sites now live on the platform.

Liam Arnold, Head of System Implementation, asked us to pass on his appreciation for everyone’s hard work in getting to this stage, writing:

“I cannot thank you all enough for the hard work and engagement throughout the last three years to get us to this big milestone. The pride and passion we see each branch bring to the project to ensure a safe smooth transfer blows my mind at each go-live… so thank you!

“We could not have done any of this without you and your teams so please pass on my thanks. The journey isn’t over, we still have more sites to go and even more exciting digital transformation to come. The fun has only just started!

“You all are a true inspiration for the business, to manage business as usual as well as a huge digital transformation programme is testament to you all – and equally putting up with me and my squad at times.”

A huge thanks to everyone who has contributed in getting us to this landmark point in the roll-out of Model Branch.

Men’s Health Week 14th – 20th June 2021

Next week is Men’s Health Week and this year’s theme is Mental Health and COVID-19.

Men’s Health Week is celebrated globally and the overall aims of week are to:

  1. Heighten awareness of preventable health problems for males of all ages.
  2. Support men and boys to engage in healthier lifestyle choices / activities.
  3. Encourage the early detection and treatment of health difficulties in males.

Even before the pandemic, men’s mental health was a cause for concern. There is a grave disparity in the high number of men who die from suicide and the low number of men who seek treatment for depression, anxiety and other mental health challenges.

The ‘Can do’ Challenge – Each day, try a different way

The five ways to wellbeing are five things we can all do that are scientifically-proven to help us feel better. For each day of Men’s Health Week we are calling on everyone to choose a different way to wellbeing.

The five ways are:

  • Connect – connect with other people (e.g. call an old friend you haven’t since before lockdown);
  • Active – move your body (e.g. go for a run/walk/swim);
  • Notice – take notice of the environment around you (e.g. turn off your phone for an hour);
  • Discover – learn something new (e.g. read a book you haven’t read before);
  • Offer – do something for someone else (e.g. volunteer for a local community group).

 

Thank you for everything you are doing

Around 9 million people have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, including many of our services users and frontline staff. And as vaccinations surge ahead, estimated numbers of COVID-19 cases in the community are declining along with hospital admissions.

All this gives reason for some cautious optimism as we move towards the first signs of spring. Thank you once again to everyone working so hard to keep our services running and to protect our vulnerable service users – we fully understand what a difficult phase in the pandemic these past few weeks have been.

Infection control guidance still fit for purpose

We’ve been asked recently whether current infection control practice is fit for purpose, being as the new variants of COVID-19 might be more contagious.

There was good news this week that a review by the UK Infection Prevention Control Cell has confirmed that the current guidance is still good – meaning that there is no change to the infection control measures we currently use. Please also remember that the need to follow infection control rules, including the use of PPE, remains the same whether staff or service users have received one or more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Constance Care Livingstone impresses the inspectors

Lorna Muir, Regional Director for Scotland, contacted us this week to say a massive ‘well done’ to the team at Constance Care Livingston who received the outcome from their recent Care Inspection. Twelve months ago, the service was under close scrutiny by the Local Authority as well as our regulators, and the management team were dealing with major staffing and quality issues.

This latest inspection has highlighted the improvements and hard work of the entire branch and management team that have transformed the service. Feedback from the inspectors included a glowing report of how well cared-for their service users felt during the pandemic:

“People told us that the support they received was caring, professional, compassionate, and respectful. People were very confident in the care staff’s practices with regard to Covid-19 and felt care workers were well trained in infection control and personal protective equipment. People felt confident in their care because staff have been trained appropriately and had good underpinning values.”

In addition, the inspectors praised the improvements in leadership at the branch, saying:

“All the staff we spoke with said they were well supported and that the manager had been instrumental in turning the service around. This was reflected in comments from the people supported. Established management systems, policies, and procedures were in place, along with flexible systems to support staff learning and development. The systems included quality assurance and actions for improvement. This meant there was an overview of the service with a focus on improvement.”

Congratulations to everyone in the Livingstone team for your hard work. The feedback was well-deserved, considering the effort everyone has put into the improvements, with one service user commenting that they “could not fault the care during COVID -19”.

Andrea makes an impact at Guardian Ormskirk

Margaret Macdonald, Regional Manager for the North West, has shared some outstanding feedback she’s received from the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The son of a service user – who was cared for by the Guardian Homecare team in Ormskirk – had taken the time to share his family’s story through the CQC feedback portal.

The service user’s son had kind words for the whole team but he wanted to highlight the dedication of one member of staff in particular:

“My mum has had care workers for several years now. Initially only a couple of quick visits a day. As time has gone on her COPD has worsened and her mobility deteriorated. In early January 2021, she was told her life expectancy was very limited, days, maybe weeks. The NHS staff and district nursing team moved mountains to ensure she was allowed to return home.

“The district nurses sorted out some night cover by Guardian Homecare as me and my brother were on a 12-hour each vigil. I have my own family and medical needs and my brother had work commitments. Neither of us was getting any sleep.

“I can only say we were given our own Mary Poppins for four nights. Her name is Andrea Thomas. She fully explained what she would do and would only call is if we really needed to get there fast. Andrea kept records of what she did, briefed us the following morning also.

“On the final night of January 16th. Andrea called us both out and within 20 minutes we had arrived. My mum had just passed away. She was again brilliant with us both and was clearly a little upset herself as she had cared for my mum when her health was much better.

“Thanks so much to Andrea and all the staff at Guardian Homecare Ormskirk.”

The local CQC inspector, Naison Chaparadza, echoed the feedback – saying, “Thank you for continuing to support people in a caring manner, I think your staff need to be proud of themselves especially during these difficult times. What they do makes a huge difference to others and this is one example. Keep it up and thank you.”

Time to Talk Day

It’s Time to Talk Day and over the last few weeks we’ve been encouraging our teams to recognise this day and have conversations about mental health.Time To Talk

Well done to all those who took part and had a conversation about mental health. It would be great to share more about what your teams have been doing to help support colleagues with their mental health during the pandemic – please keep sending your stories to communications@candchealthcare.co.uk.

Our commitment to our teams

As a business, we want to make a positive change towards the mental health in our workplace. Over the coming months we will be sharing with you our commitment to wellbeing and asking for your thoughts and ideas on how we can make positive changes. Watch this space.

Celebrities call out vaccine misinformation

A group of celebrities representing ethnic minorities and communities from across the UK have released a video addressing vaccine misinformation.

The group, which included actors Adil Ray and Meera Syal, as well as cricketer Moeen Ali and presenter Konnie Huq, appealed to minority ethnic communities in the UK to help address hesitancy around the COVID-19 vaccine.

Coronavirus has disproportionately impacted minority ethnic communities, but these communities have also been subject to misleading information around the vaccine. You can watch the video here.

A new name for
Interserve Healthcare

As you may recall, in November we completed the purchase of Interserve Healthcare from Interserve Group Limited. As part of City & County, the Interserve Healthcare team continue to deliver specialist complex care for adults and children living with a wide range of conditions in their own homes.

Joining City & County has brought new opportunities for Interserve Healthcare to deliver care to many more people across the country. To reflect this change, we’re pleased to announce that they will be renamed to Advantage Healthcare – a name which they used until their acquisition by Interserve Group, and one with more than 20 years’ history of supporting families across the UK.

Their vision remains the same as it always has been: to provide outstanding care and services to all of their clients and their dedicated staff. We believe the Advantage Healthcare name truly represents this approach, giving everyone they support the benefit of receiving the highest possible standard of care.

We are developing a new Advantage Healthcare brand – including a new logo and materials, new email addresses, new brand colours and imagery for the entire business. Our priority is to maintain the high levels of service that both the Interserve Healthcare and Advantage Healthcare brands are known for.

Over the coming weeks you’ll start to notice different uniforms and the Advantage Healthcare logo in use. Our priority is to refresh the public-facing materials and we’ll aim to get the main changes in place by the end of February, though you will start to see the new name in some places from today.

Let’s start talking about mental health at work – Time to Talk Day Time To Talk

Thursday 4th February is Time to Talk Day – a day when everyone is encouraged to have a conversation about mental health.

Time to Talk Day is run by Time to Change to help spread the word that you can talk about mental health anywhere – including at work.

It’s important to talk with someone about potential unhappiness in your life or health concerns.

On 4th February, let’s all take the time to have a conversation about mental health, whether that be with your colleague or your line manager. Visit the Time to Change website to find out more.

LifeWorks – Employee Assistance Programme

Please remember you can also take advantage of confidential expert help – at no cost – with professional counselling services available through LifeWorks, our employee assistance programme.

Professionally trained counsellors are available 24/7 to offer a sympathetic ear, emotional and practical support, and resources for you and your loved ones.

This completely confidential service is there to help you. No one will know you have called.

Call LifeWorks on 0800 1691920 today to access the right support for you. Alternatively use the Chat function on the website or app to start the conversation.

Time to Change is England’s biggest programme to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination and is run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness.

Wonderful feedback in Westminster

Kasia Brzyszcz and the London Care team in Westminster received some impressive feedback this week from Westminster Council. The local Quality Assurance Officer, Lorraine Ive, made a point of contacting Kasia to express just how impressed the Adult Social Care and Health team is with London Care’s response during the pandemic. Lorraine wrote:

“We have been working together for a few months, and I just wanted to say that I am impressed by the quality monitoring calls, and the work that is being done out in the community by the care staff during this really testing time. I admire those out on the field – in particular the way they are keeping people safe and themselves.

“Also well done to you and your coordinators for steering the ship and keeping things consistent. Thanks for all your hard work.”

Well done to everyone in the Westminster team, it’s reassuring to see how much the local authority appreciate the difference you are making for their community.

Care worker vaccine survey (England)

Researchers want to hear from care workers in England about their views and experience with the COVID-19 vaccine. The findings of this study, which is being carried out by the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Immunisation, will be shared with Public Health England to help inform policy decisions regarding COVID-19 vaccination amongst health and social care staff.

Care workers in your teams who have already received their vaccination can complete the survey here.

And, we’re back…Happy New Years and here’s to enjoying a better one than the last.

Critical worker guidance amended for school attendance

The Government has recently updated its guidance on which jobs count as ‘key worker’ roles, clarifying that the following are key workers:

–          Care workers

–          Other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers

–          Support and specialist staff required to maintain the health and social care sector

This means that everyone employed in City & County remains a key worker.

The changes were announced after schools raised concerns about too many children remaining in school under the latest lockdowns. The new guidance confirms that children with at least one parent or carer who is a key worker can go to school or college if required. Parents and carers have, however, been asked to keep their children at home if they can.

If you’re a CCH employee in need of a letter confirming your key worker status, please speak to your branch manager or HR.

Hana volunteers to tackle COVID-19

We found out this week that a member of our HR team, Hana Dedman, has volunteered to administer COVID-19 vaccinations. Following an intensive training schedule, we’re pleased to announce that Hana is now ready to fight the coronavirus pandemic with St John Ambulance. Hana told us why she chose to sign up:

“I chose to volunteer to administer COVID-19 vaccines and become part of the National program during this pandemic, for a few reasons. Firstly, there is a clear and genuine need for people to help, but also a feeling that I wanted to support our local community to try to help. In addition, I feel passionate about helping the NHS in any way I can, due to the excellent care given to my Father during his battle with his heart condition and subsequent care he received. Sadly, we lost my Father a few years ago, however I am sure my helping, would have made him proud.

“Since joining City & County in January 2020, I have witnessed our care workers dedication in supporting the vulnerable ensuring we deliver our care packages successfully and appreciate how hard they work in difficult circumstances.

“I came to realise that without the support of volunteers and speedy administering of this life saving vaccine, there would be significant delays causing health issues and further hardships on businesses, people’s livelihoods and most importantly, being able to see our family and friends again.

“Signing up as a volunteer with St John Ambulance who are working in partnership certainly wasn’t an easy task to say the least, there were a series of assessment with a pass rate 80% and a full day’s training too. Looking forward to getting started.”

Well done Hana, you’re going to make a huge impact on the lives of those you vaccinate – as well as their friends, families and colleagues. You can find out more about volunteering with St John Ambulance to make a difference during the pandemic here.

Battling the elements in Stirling

Mathew Green, Registered Manager at SCRT Homecare, got in touch today to express his gratitude to two members of the team in Stirling.

Following the extremely cold weather and heavy snow in the area, two of the branch’s dedicated coordinators braved the harsh weather to make sure that service users got the care they needed. Mathew told us:

“Massive thanks to Branch Coordinators Shannon Murray and Kimberley Boyd for the Stirling branch, who were fast-acting this morning to help carry out care calls due to the snow and ice. Both had to abandon their car and walk through the ice and snow to get to our most vulnerable service users.”

Thanks to you both. It’s amazing to see just how committed our teams are to supporting vulnerable service users across the UK.

MOTs and lockdown

You may remember that during the lockdown last spring, MOT centres were closed and that the expiry dates of existing MOT certificates were extended. During current lockdowns however, the Government has confirmed that vehicle MOT centres can stay open in all areas of Great Britain.

As a result, there will be no extensions in the current lockdown. If you own and rely on a vehicle, please don’t forget to book an MOT as normal if it’s due.

Free carbon monoxide awareness webinars

The Gas Safe Charity is offering free, on line carbon monoxide awareness Zoom workshops, aimed at anyone who visits or works in the homes of vulnerable people.

The workshop lasts about an hour and explains the sources, signs and symptoms of high and low level carbon monoxide risks in the home and includes relevant scenarios to explain what steps to take if carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected.

Sessions are available from January through to March. You can find out more information and book your place here.

Vaccinations underway at our Extra Care schemes

We’re pleased to confirm that COVID-19 vaccinations are now taking place at some of our Extra Care schemes. We received the photos below today from Bristol Court in Hounslow, where service users and staff have started to receive their jabs.

So far, more than 100 people at the scheme have been vaccinated. We’ll bring you more updates on how the vaccination programme is reaching our teams and service users across the UK over the coming weeks.

Loneliness Awareness Week #LetsTalkLoneliness

As the week draws to a close, so does the Marmalade Trust’s campaign to highlight and raise awareness for those amongst us struggling with loneliness. Set up in 2016 and running from 15-19 June 2020, LAW has likely never been more necessary in this the most isolated of times as our communities and world around grapple with the Covid crisis. 

Together with raising general awareness, a key aim of the campaign is helping people talk about feeling alone and to make new connections. Loneliness is a normal and commonplace emotion but there still exists a stigma around acknowledging and talking about it. We can even feel lonely with people directly around us, particularly when we feel misunderstood or uncared for. We may also not realise the people, relatives, friends and neighbours who are feeling lonely and isolated beside us. 

The Marmalade Trust has joined with other charities during Loneliness Awareness Week to launch the Let’s Talk Loneliness campaign. Here are just some of the ways you can get involved this week:

  • Build your understanding – take a look at the loneliness guide to learn more about helping others who are lonely
  • Utilise social media – talking about loneliness is an excellent way to better understand it. Why not share a post about loneliness and suggest ways to help others. Use the hashtags #LetsTalkLoneliness and #LonelinessAwarenessWeek 
  • Take the Loneliness Pledge here and promise to learn and talk about loneliness. You can also share pledge graphics to your social media and tag your friends. The more you reach, the more people can join the conversation.
  • Make someone’s day with a letter or card – reach out to family, friends or neighbours who are elderly or otherwise isolated. Look out for the special Loneliness Awareness Week postmark on all mail delivered between 15-19 June.
  • Play & Talk Weekend – play a game online with friends and family for an hour – find out more here.
  • The Great Get Together – organised by the Jo Cox Foundation, The Great Get Together celebrates the power of community. Get involved and build connections either in your neighbourhood or virtually this week.

And remember, it’s not just this week but every week that people are affected. Make chatting to and helping others an everyday part of your life.

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.

Each week, we receive dozens of stories from care workers and managers across the country as they battle to provide the best care and support possible amid this crisis. These stories are remarkable – like the people behind them. Many of them are uplifting. Here are just a few of our colleagues’ heroic, kind and increasingly widely-appreciated efforts.

Will coronavirus bring care workers the recognition they deserve?

“Recognition has been a long time coming. There is not enough of it, and it’s not consistent. But if one good thing is going to come out of this crisis, it will be that care workers get the recognition that they deserve.”

Those are the words of Lynne Hewitt, regional manager, Scotland. She is far from alone in hoping that this pandemic will leave behind some positive changes in how society views and values the work that care workers do. It has taken a once-in-a-generation pandemic of unprecedented scale for citizens to look up and appreciate care workers’ work – and that is a sad reflection of where priorities lay.

But many, many more citizens are now aware of, and showing their gratitude for, the work that happens across our communities – day in, day out, year in, year out, pandemic or no pandemic.

You have all read about – and perhaps experienced – instances of spontaneous (or indeed coordinated) applause for care workers and health workers. Many of you have talked about how you or colleagues have been ushered to the front of supermarket queues, offered lifts, gifts, and food for yourselves and your clients. Joanne Robinson, branch manager in North Ormesby, sent this picture of care worker Debbie Dabb receiving a basket of goodies from Pound Stretcher. The gift was for the care staff (it included two little boxes of gloves!) But – care workers being the people they are – the team divided it up into ten mini-hampers that were distributed to customers in Pennyman House. “We drew flat numbers and delivered them this afternoon,” said Jo.

Many care workers say they feel more appreciated by their customers, too, during this difficult time. “We are getting a lot of ‘thank yous’”, reports Hannah Marsh, regional manager, Midlands. “People are being more understanding – for instance, when a care worker is late – and more grateful,” she says. Grumpy customers have become less so, as the full burden on care workers becomes clearer to everyone. “Care workers have always been seen as a low-rank in society.  Now they’re being seen for what they are – so important,” says Hannah.

In Wales, an 102-year old customer in Ebbw Vale went outside in her wheelchair, alongside her daughters, ringing a bell and proclaiming “clap for our care workers!” during the planned 8pm applause on 26 March, recalls branch manager Samantha Price.

Will this show of support for front-line care workers, nurses and others continue, post-COVID-19, when non-key workers are allowed back to their desks?

It’s easy to believe it won’t. It’s easy to believe that care workers will again be forgotten, once the public’s attention has shifted back to their own jobs, commutes and concerns, and news bulletins move off coronavirus.

Yet the scale and nature of this pandemic might just enable more lasting change. There may not be as much clapping in the street, but this virus could trigger a re-think among many people – including youngsters – seeking impactful employment. Scott Higgins-Wright, regional manager in Cannock, hopes that one silver lining in this cloud is “that social care is seen as a career, and that it meets an important societal need.”

Some managers are reporting spikes in recruitment as people line up to help. “It’s hard to keep on top of the candidate screening,” says Kim Nicholson in Biggleswade. Recruitment is “through the roof. That has never happened in our industry,” she says. DBS checks are coming back next-day – also unheard of. “They know we need them fast,” says Kim.

Sarah Thomas, regional director, South, interviewed one candidate whose planned university research project had been postponed, and who wanted to “give something back” during the current pandemic. Another young woman planning to study human rights law at Cardiff University was likewise passionate about doing something hands-on.

It’s not the same picture across the board; other branches report cancellations and no-shows – including as potential new hires get scared.

But the fact that young people like those Sarah has recruited are rolling up their sleeves is a huge positive. They may not be intending to spend the entire career as care workers. But their experiences will shape their own, and their friends’, awareness of the care worker role and its crucial importance in society.

Care workers themselves also have a role in ensuring they earn the respect they deserve. They must be even prouder of what they do. They must take confidence from their role in this outbreak, and shout louder. There are far too many care workers who say “I’m just a care worker”, recounts Hannah. Just a care worker?

 

If you have a story please let us know: Covid19response@candchealthcare.co.uk

Over the last 10 days, City & County team members across the UK have been donning their finest lycra, breaking out the sweat bands, dusting off their running shoes and stretching, perspiring, panting, heaving and pounding the pavements, all in a bid to raise funds in support of NHS workers.

The goal? To run 5km, donate £5 and then nominate 5 other team members to do the same. And, of course, reap any bragging rights if achieved in record time.

So far, the team have cracked £1000 in donations and are a little bit fitter for it. Good deeds deserve good rewards!

Our latest finishers are Neil Griffiths, Hayfa Saad, Zoe Hughes, Richard Hobson, Lindsay Smith, Caroline Barrow, Lisa Brown, Emma Sword, Carol Brown, Cath Stobbs, Michelle Lloyd and Antony Goulding

The fastest run has been from Richard Hobson at 21:49. Show off.

City & County CEO, James Thornburn, has also pledged to match funds raised up to £2,500 giving City & County a total target of £5K to aim for.

Well done to all and keep those kilometres ticking over. It’s for an extremely good cause.

If you would like to contribute to the NHS fund, please donate here.

#run5KforNHS&SocialCare

 

   

Each week, we receive dozens of stories from care workers and managers across the country as they battle to provide the best care and support possible amid this crisis. These stories are remarkable – like the people behind them. Many of them are uplifting. Here are just a few of our colleagues’ heroic, kind and increasingly widely-appreciated efforts.

Caring for the care workers

Front-line care workers continue to deliver the best service possible in extremely challenging circumstances. For some, that means potential exposure to the virus. One care worker in Cannock sat outside a sick patient’s window, talking to him, for four hours while he waited for paramedics, reports regional manager Scott Higgins-Wright. Regional manager Tracy Asbery also sat with frightened patients as they prepared to be taken to hospital, reports Sarah Thomas, regional director, South.

As care workers deal with both their own, and others’ fear, those care workers need looking after, too. A handful, including Tracy, have become sick themselves and are self-isolating. Many of those still on duty are extending their work-days (and nights), foregoing rest, continuing their rounds through eerily empty towns, villages and communities. They rarely see colleagues or family. “It feels like the calm before the storm,” says Samantha Bond, regional manager, Northern Ireland and Blackpool. “It’s weird, because we’re driving around, doing the fire-fighting, and there’s no-one else on the road.”

Managers like Samantha are doing their utmost to keep their care workers safe, to stay in touch and to boost morale. “I send messages to them every day to say how proud I am,” says Hannah Ford, extra-care branch manager in Salford. “That keeps them going.” Lynne Hewitt, regional manager Scotland, has split her branch teams in two, ensuring that if one group does go off sick, the branch office can remain open. “It’s so I can assure the care workers that they won’t be on their own,” she explains. “There will always be someone there.”

Samantha Price, branch manager at Ebbw Vale, runs daily team calls on Zoom to keep spirits up. The team updates Facebook pages with nuggets of useful information for each other and for other care workers, such as lists of garages offering free MOTs. “On a Friday, we take print-screens of the Zoom call, with our thumbs up, and post it on the care workers’ page to say ‘thank you for this week’. It’s so important to stay in touch as care workers go about their work, Samantha insists; especially now as “we don’t see them as much.”

Mel Flanagan, branch manager in York, has packaged up carbolic soap and hand-towels in air-tight bags for each of her care workers to carry on their rounds with them, in case there are no clean washing facilities at clients’ houses. “It is for the care workers’ use only, and means they don’t have to rely on those providing it, especially when in lock-down.”

 

A lot more needs to be done. “Everyone is scared; everyone wants a face-mask. There is anger,” says regional director Sarah Thomas. There is also more work than usual to assuage concerned family-members, alongside the clients themselves. “We’re having to deal with partners…putting in extra visits because of how they are feeling,” adds Sarah.

Some of Samantha Price’s care workers are FaceTime-ing family members, during their care visit, to reassure them that their loved-one is okay. “We don’t normally do that,” says Samantha, but the practice evolved naturally, from care workers’ “exceptional” instincts, she reports. (The same selfless instincts led care workers Della and Teresa, after their double-handed run, to queue up for two hours to collect a customer’s medicines, allowing the family to take a step back.)

City and County Group staff throughout the country are going the extra mile, drawing on their instincts, expertise, networks and relationships to keep things going, often against the odds.

The public is trying to help, too. Many have sent in stories of spontaneous applause, letters from school-children, donated goods, hand-embroidered face-masks, and much more.

Care workers in Alison Phillip’s team in Redhill, Surrey, regularly make up little bags of soap, flannels and shampoo to take to clients – even during normal times. When Alison realised that clients were going to struggle for daily shopping and essentials, she appealed to her community through Facebook and has since been inundated with products, including toiletries, food-stuffs and more, reports Sarah Thomas. Feltham shops and garages are offering to deliver, for free, whatever care workers and clients need to keep going. With similar generosity from local schools, who delivered leftover food when they shut down, toiletries from local cosmetics firms, and even toilet-paper from neighbours, “the training room is now like a little shop, with items that can easily be distributed when needed,” Sarah says. “We no longer have to worry about the shopping calls we do, since, if needed, we, can make up a large bag from what we have.”

An Asda worker in Monk Cross lifted Mel out of her gloom. “I honestly felt lost, as we are all facing an unknown quantity, and ultimately putting ourselves in the line of fire,” she recalls. But then one day, as she perused the empty shelves in Asda, a store worker stopped her. After establishing that she worked alongside the NHS, he shook her hand “with such intensity, looked me straight in the eyes and said how proud he was of all of us for the work we were doing,” says Mel. For her, “the humanity of this one man erased those fears and made me realise that actually, people to care. People do appreciate us. People do acknowledge our skills and determination.”

If you have a story please let us know: Covid19response@candchealthcare.co.uk