New Care Minister visits London Care

Yesterday, our London Care branch in Rotherhithe welcomed the new Care Minister Gillian Keegan MP on a visit organised by Homecare Association CEO Jane Townson.

The Minister met members of the care worker team at the branch to hear first-hand about the challenges they face in delivering care in Southwark. Gillian Keegan MP explained the Government’s plans to tackle the social care crisis following its recent funding announcement.

Director of Policy and Communications Max Wurr said, “We are delighted that the Minister chose to visit one of our companies within just a few days of taking office and were encouraged by her willingness to listen and by her positive approach. We will await this autumn’s social care White Paper with interest to see more detail about how the new funding will reach the front line and support our wonderful and dedicated workforce.”

You can read more about the visit on the Homecare Association website. Huge thanks go to the branch manager Olu Fademi and Regional Director Sarah Kwofie for their help in organising the visit.

Homecare Association rebrands and relaunches

Our professional association, The Homecare Association (formerly the UKHCA), has rebranded and relaunched its fantastic new website. You’re all invited to pay a visit and bookmark the page here.

The Homecare Association is the UK’s membership body for homecare providers, ensuring that homecare is valued so that all of us can live well at home and flourish within our communities.

The association has been a real ally and voice for our sector for many years and especially over the past eighteen months and we think they’ve done an amazing job with the new image – do let us know your thoughts so we can pass them on.

Changes to international travel rules in England

From 4am on 4th October the rules for international travel to England will change. The current traffic light system will reduce to a single reduced red list of countries, and simplified travel measures for arrivals.

The rules for travel from countries not on the red list will depend on each traveller’s vaccination status. However, PCR tests will not be needed for fully vaccinated travellers returning to England.

You can read the full rules on the red, green and amber lists here.

Have your say on mandatory vaccinations for care staff

Don’t forget that the Government needs your input on plans for staff in all health and care settings in England to be required to have COVID-19 and flu vaccines. The intention is to protect vulnerable people and follows the recent decision to make vaccinations mandatory for staff in care homes.

As we shared with you last week, we will be making a corporate response to the consultation. However, individual employees and members of the public are welcome to make their own personal responses here.

Kellie and Neil tackle three peaks in three weeks

Complete Care Amegreen’s Kellie and Neil completed their #3PEAKSIN3WEEKS challenge in support of the Spinal Injuries Association over the weekend by conquering Ben Nevis! We’re sure we speak for everyone when we say how proud we are of them both. They have tackled some obstacles along the way but they didn’t let that stop them and they can now say they have reached the summit of 

the three highest peaks in the UK.

In Kellie’s own words “I have been working with Spinal Cord Injured clients for 10 years now and I feel extremely privileged to be marking my 10 year anniversary with this challenge of a lifetime. I am honoured to be sharing this milestone with a charity and organisation so close to my heart.”

Having now completed the three peaks, Kellie has said that Ben Nevis was by far the most challenging and she says “the one thing that remained on my mind and got me to the summit of the 1,345 metre mountain, was remembering the reason I am doing this, for Martin, his team and the SIA.’”

Please join us in congratulating Kellie and Neil, and lets do all that we can to mark this fantastic achievement by reaching their fundraising target of £2000! Small or large, every little helps, please follow this link to donate and show your support.

Welcome to the North Devon team our new Care Manager Sian Jones!

Over the past 20 years Sian has acquired a vast amount of knowledge and experience within the care sector which is partly why we believe she is perfect for HomeLife Carers.

Sian hosts an approachable and supportive attitude towards her care staff with an ‘open door’ policy and a desire to see all staff progress both personally and professionally.

In addition to her role as Care Manager, Sian also visits our service users in the community alongside our dedicated team of care workers across North Devon.

Sian’s aim is to offer a more personal service, and with a smaller, close-nit team in place we believe this will have a positive effect on both our care staff and service users alike.

These are exciting and promising times ahead for HomeLife Carers and look forward to you joining us on this journey.

 

Webinar – inspiring quality in social care

Skills for Care is holding a webinar to celebrate quality in social care in England, looking at:

  • What is quality in social care?
  • Living quality: sharing experiences and tips on quality social care from the perspectives of local government commissioners, providers, and people with lived experience.
  • Future quality: what will change in how we approach quality over the next 2 to 3 years and what will the potential impact be?

The event, which is part of the Quality Matters initiative and has been developed by a group of national social care and health organisations led by NICE and Skills for Care, will explore people’s experiences and perspectives about what quality means in adult social care, both now in pandemic management and recovery planning, and what quality social care means in the future.

The webinar is suitable for anyone working in frontline adult social care management with an interest in improving quality of service delivery. It takes place on 14th October 2021 at 1.30pm and you can register here.

Natasha’s marathon for mental health

Natasha Punter from the Business Support Team returned to the office recently after successfully completing the Brighton Marathon in aid of CALM – the Campaign Against Living Miserably.

Natasha’s reasons for tackling a challenge in aid of mental health are incredibly personal, she told us, “My very dear friend of 22 years took her own life last year after her mental health deteriorated quite rapidly during lockdown. She was young, so full of life and the very LAST person I thought would walk in front of a train.”

“In the month after this I saw a film on the BBC about a young man whose mental health was adversely affected during lockdown last year, and he took his own life leaving his fiancé and young son, he was just 27. The pandemic affected mental health far more than we think and CALM are a charity trying to help families and anyone struggling mentally with thoughts of suicide. CALM supported his family through the aftermath but said they could not even fund their helpline past 5pm, which really hit home how charities were also affected last year, and I felt I had to fundraise for them.”

“I’d never even thought about running a marathon before but thought why not – it was a good way to raise funds and take on a personal challenge. And I raised £770 in the end!”

Such an impactful story Natasha and congratulations on smashing your first marathon. It’s not too late to support Natasha’s amazing cause either, you can find out more and donate on her Just Giving page.

Helen and Gloria save the day in Swansea

We were recently contacted by a member of the public to tell about the heroics two members of the Abacare team in Swansea, Gloria and Helen. After he was involved in a traffic accident with a lady who had blacked out, Mr Goodwin wanted to express his appreciation for Gloria and Helen’s clear thinking in a crisis.

Mr Goodwin told us, “Gloria and Helen were traveling behind the lady’s car and were quick to respond to the incident. They both took control of the situation making sure I was fine, but then moved straight onto the lady trapped in hers. Once we managed to get the door open they turned into two heroes. They comforted the lady and kept her calm, all whilst this was going on dealing with the passing public.

“Once the situation was in hand Gloria left the incident advising that she had a client to attend to, and Helen would stay on until the ambulance arrived.

“These two ladies Not only took charge of a serious incident but also had the professionalism to think about their appointments and patients, no doubt needing just as much care. I’m not sure what sort of recognition your company have but these two ladies made a difference today and they very much need recognising for it.”

We couldn’t agree more, such an inspiring response by two amazing members of the Abacare team. Their manager, Helen Tennant, let us know that Mr Goodwin even dropped by the branch later with bottles of Champaign for his two heroes.

Government publishes plan for COVID response this autumn and winter

 

The Government has published its COVID Response – Autumn and Winter Plan for 2021 (here), a five-point plan to address a rise in COVID-19 and flu cases in England this winter.

The plan sets out a programme of booster COVID-19 jabs for those who were in the first phase for vaccination and whose second jab was more than six months ago. This starts on 20th September and includes all adults aged 50 years or over, as well as frontline health and social care workers – including our care teams.

The recommended booster is a single dose of the Pfizer jab or half-dose of the Moderna one. People can even get the booster at the same time as their flu jab, which will be especially important this winter.

The Winter Plan confirms PCR and LFD testing will remain free and that legal requirements to self-isolate will continue. The Plan also advises that compulsory face masks for the public and vaccine passports also remain a possibility.

Fifteen years of support from brilliant Bela

The Quality team have asked us to extend their thanks to Bela Thakrar who, this week, marks her fantastic fifteenth anniversary as part of the City & County family.

After joining London Care way back on the 18th September 2006 as a care support worker, Bela’s skills and passion immediately shone-out as she supported the community around the Northwood, Eastcote and Ruislip area.

Upon moving to the Willow House Extra Care scheme in 2015, Bela also started helping with risk assessments and care planning. Bela’s skills meant that she was soon offered the role of team leader at the scheme, before taking the opportunity to start a new service – Newcroft House – in 2017. This gave Bela further in-depth knowledge and experience of running and establishing the extra care services, which Bela was able to expand on at the nearby Willow House scheme too.

It was whilst at Willow house that Bela’s commitment and keen eye for detail were recognised with the offer of a new role, that of Clinical and Support Manager, which Bela now enjoys with the Quality team.

A huge thank you from all of us at City & County for your commitment over the years Bela. We all look forward to working alongside you for a long time to come.

Consultation on mandatory vaccination of the home care workforce in England

The Government is seeking views on plans for staff in all health and care settings in England – including home care – to be required to have COVID-19 vaccines. This is to protect vulnerable people and  follows the recent decision to make vaccinations mandatory for staff in care homes.

It would mean only those who are fully vaccinated, unless medically exempt, could deliver health and care services. The consultation will also seek views on whether flu vaccines should be a requirement for health and care workers.

As you will know from our regular communications, City & County strongly supports the vaccination of health and care staff, and we are pleased that the majority of our staff have obtained their vaccinations. However, we are concerned that making vaccinations mandatory could seriously impact staff capacity and the continuity of the vital care services we provide.

We will be making these points in a corporate response to the consultation. However, you are also welcome to make your own personal responses here.

New guidance materials for flu vaccination

As our teams across the UK continue to manage the impact of COVID-19, let’s not to forget how important a simple flu jab is to ensuring the safety of our staff and those we care for.

Flu vaccination for social care staff directly working with people clinically vulnerable to flu is free and strongly encouraged. Public Health England (PHE) have developed guidance to support staff to understand the importance of getting the flu vaccine this season.

There are materials for staff in different care settings, covering who is eligible, how to get a vaccination and where you can get one from. The guidance also answers some common questions about the vaccine – for example, did you know that you cannot catch flu from the flu jab because there are no live viruses in the vaccine?

You can find out more and download the materials here.

Encouraging words in Tameside

Finally, one of our Careline Homecare branch managers, Vicki Kinder, shared some inspiring feedback she’d received from the Tameside commissioning team. Victoria Heyes, Commissioning and Contracts Officer for Tameside Metropolitan Borough, contacted Vicki to say:

“I feel things seem to have got harder all round all of a sudden. I know this might seem an empty gesture, but I want you to know I couldn’t be more proud to work with you. Hold your head up high, because you are amazing and doing a fantastic job.”

Such amazing feedback Vicki and thank you for sharing. It’s so rewarding to see just how much commissioners appreciate the hard work that our teams are doing every day.

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.’

Top officials thank adult social care staff

Last week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Care Minister Helen Whately, Chief Nurse Deborah Sturdy and Chief Social Worker Lyn Romeo wrote a joint letter to staff in the adult social care sector. They wanted to thank everyone for their efforts during the pandemic, stating:

“Last Spring, we were in the midst of the very worst days of the pandemic.

“Today, thanks to your unwavering dedication, your willingness to adapt to the highest standards of infection prevention control, and the success of the biggest mass vaccination programme in our history, we are in a much better place.

“Adaptability has been one of your greatest strengths. Throughout the pandemic, you have embraced many changes to daily practice, always keeping in mind the needs of the people you support. Recently and most importantly, you have supported the vaccination roll-out as part of your work to protect those in your care.

“All of this against the backdrop of an increased workload: covering shifts for absent colleagues, working while children are off school, and coping with your own grief, anxieties and personal caring responsibilities. We take none of this for granted and remain deeply grateful for your continued commitment.

“We’ve seen the challenges you’ve overcome, how you’ve adapted and supported each other as well as those you care for. Now we can be much more optimistic about managing this pandemic, further easing restrictions and eventually restoring our lives to something closely resembling normality.

“You have been there when your residents, clients and colleagues needed you most. With free PPE guaranteed until March 2022 and free access to mental health and wellbeing support specifically for health and care workers, we intend to be there for you too.

“We hope you know how much we appreciate your professional and personal efforts.”

We fully echo this message and would like to extend our thanks to every one of you for your hard work and commitment during this incredibly challenging period.

Keeping yourself and our clients safe in hot weather

Monday saw the hottest day of the year so far, with further hot weather forecast across the UK in the coming days and thunderstorms expected towards the end of the week.

Please remember that breathing problems and cardiovascular conditions can both be made worse by heat, and warmer weather can also bring on cramps, rashes, dizziness and fainting. In the worst cases, heatstroke may develop.

The accompanying heavy rain may lead to local flooding, so please remember to take due care driving and, if not using your own vehicle, to pack an umbrella or waterproof clothing

Thank you to the Abbotswood team

Sarah Thomas shared another compliment for the committed London Care team at the Abbotswood Extra Care scheme in Littlehampton. After their mother sadly passed away, her children wrote to the scheme to express just how much the team meant to the family over the years, telling them:

“Thank you, Millie and all the care team so much for the care, support, love and friendship that you gave to our lovely mum over the years that she so happily lived at Abbotswood. My brother and I wanted to place on record how enormously grateful we are to you and all the care team for the care, support and more that you give each and every day.

“At any time that more was needed the support was always there. A doctor or dental appointment that I couldn’t be there for. I and she knew she was in safe and caring hands. Thank you.

“In March things became more challenging, but the team ensured that she went to hospital promptly to get her condition stabilised. It was a huge relief for her, and us, that you did it and that she was able to spend the last weeks of her life back in her own home. The level of care and support that you and your team were able to provide was amazing and it cannot be under estimated how this ensured that mum’s end of life care was peaceful and comfortable. She knew you all so well and there you were. Marvellous.

“Alison, you and Millie were such a support to me too. The fact that all this wonderful care was being provided in the midst of the Covid pandemic really is a great testament to the whole care team. So many carers helped mum that is isn’t possible to name everyone but I particularly appreciated Linda who took caring control and Claire and Tania taking care of mum (and me!) the last time I was there with her.

“We will always be so thankful that mum was able to spend her last days in her own home with carers (friends) who knew her and took such good care of her. Please feel free to pass on our thanks to everyone involved in providing such high quality care including end of life care.”

Such heart-warming feedback from this family. Thank you to everyone at the scheme for the compassion and support you gave to this service user and her family. It’s clear how big an impact you all made.

Men’s Health Week: tell us your reflections

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

Everybody’s mental health has been challenged by the lockdowns and insecurities of the last year and it’s not over. As we emerge from what we hope will be the worst of the pandemic, questions, concerns and anxieties remain. Men’s Health Week 2021 asks – how do we move forward?

We want to hear from you – please share with us your reflections from the past year:

  • What have you learnt about yourself and your own wellbeing?
  • What are you looking forward to doing again?
  • What have you improved or changed in your life?
  • What will you keep doing?

Please email your thoughts to communications@candchealthcare.co.uk – we would love to share your thoughts in our upcoming communications (anonymously if you prefer).

LifeWorks – Employee Assistance Programme

Have you struggled with mental health and insecurity during the pandemic? Please remember you can 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 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.

However, if you’re not quite ready to talk, visit the LifeWorks app or website to access the online wellbeing resources.

Heart-warming thanks for the SCRT team in Dunblane

Finally, Mathew Green, Registered Manager for SCRT Homecare sent us a picture of hand-made gifts and messages the team in Dunblane received his week.

Mathew told us, “In celebrating Carer’s Week last week, the Dunblane SCRT team were kindly gifted these lovely knitted hearts by St Mary’s Church and the Dementia Friendly Dunblane Group. They wanted to thank the care staff for all the work that they are doing in the community – supporting the service users they attend and supporting the group whenever they can.”

We think they look fantastic and it’s amazing to see just how much the care team mean to the local community.

Tell us your news!

Remember that we’d love to share your news in the Weekly Round-Up, so if you have a great story to tell about your staff or service users, please do email us

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).

 

Wonderful words in Westminster

One of our regional managers in London, Kasia Brzyszcz, received a moving thank you this week from the family of someone cared for by the team in Westminster.

Through the pandemic, their normally socially-active relative, Mitzi, couldn’t be with those the loved, but the dedicated staff at London care stepped in to be there for her. The family wrote:

“On behalf of Mitzi’s friends and family, we thank you for the excellent care you and your team provided during the las year of her life.  Sadly, the majority of us were unable to visit during this time due to the COVID pandemic.

“Mitzi was a hugely generous and very special lady. In normal circumstances, her flat would have been full of visitors in the course of a week – plus outings to local eateries! However, I know that in the absence of her usual visitors, Mitzi so enjoyed the company of her carers – especially Maria and Hanna. She spoke of hem with great affection when her friends and family called by phone.

“Please thank everyone who was involved in Mitzi’s care.”

A huge ‘well done’ to everyone in Westminster, but especially to Maria and Hanna. You were there for Mitzi when others couldn’t be during her final days, and have clearly made a big impact on her friends and family.

Applauding the team at Abbotswood

Sarah Thomas sent us a fabulous message from the family of a service user at the Abbotswood Extra Care scheme in Littlehampton. After she recently passed away, the service user’s family got in touch to express just how much of an impact the London Care team had made on their lives, writing:

“Words aren’t enough to express how we as a family feel in the wonderful care that you gave her.  You weren’t just carers you were all her friend and nothing was ever too much trouble.

“Your care during COVID last year was outstanding especially as family members were not allowed into the building, I knew Mum was in safe hands and looked after so well.  We knew she wasn’t well from August 2020 when we discovered she probably had colon and bowel cancer along with breast cancer.  But as usual, all your wonderful individual personalities along with all your caring nature gave her the inspiration to start painting, with her left hand as she had had a stroke some years before. She was so pleased to be able to paint small pictures for a lot of her special carers such as yourselves.

“All the carers took their time to chat with her and make her feel so loved whether it was when they came in in the mornings to wash her, or lunch time to serve her meal or at her tea time call or bed time call, nothing was every too much trouble. As we know, Mum was always putting the carers first and hated troubling you all or pressing the buzzer if she felt unwell but towards the end she realised she could do this and would be greeted with such lovely smiley, loving faces who became part of the family.

“Right up until the end, you were there for Mum and us as a family and I can’t fault the care you give at Abbotswood, you all need gold medals for what you do and the service you provide, you are all professionals and amazing. You are not just staff or carers you are part of the families and I know I shall miss you all and seeing all your smiley faces.”

Thank you so much to the team at Abbotswood for the diligent care compassion you showed to this family through an incredibly challenging time. It’s reassuring to know that the care and reassurance you provided to this service user and her wider family will have such as lasting impact.

Latest contract wins

Our Bids and Contracts team are hard at work – supported by our operational teams – securing new contracts across the country for City & County. We’re very pleased to confirm two recent success in England.

Firstly, Guardian Homecare will be delivering a block-hours reablement service contract for around 1700 hours per week. The Guardian Homecare team in Blackburn will be stepping up to the challenge, coving the East Lancashire area from July. Nicky Tucker, with Margaret McDonald and Ross McCrann wrote this bid with true co-production, and we’re delighted with the outcome.

Secondly, we’ve secured an advance Healthcare contract with Walsall Council for a block-hours night responsive service pilot. The scheme will run for six months, starting in June. Phoebe McKeon and Celia Fleming managed this bid, and wanted to pass on huge thanks to David Percox at Advance Healthcare for his support.

A huge ‘well done’ to everyone involved.

Our teams get involved in Dementia Action week

This week is Dementia Action Week, organised by the Alzheimer’s Society, recognising the nearly one million UK families who are struggling to care for their loved ones with the dignity and support they deserve.

A focus this year is on reforms to the social care system to improve the lives of those with dementia and the families who support them. The Alzheimer’s Society are calling on the Government to cure the care system by committing to publication of a clear plan for social care – with reform underway this year – and ensuring their reforms consider not just funding, but also improving the quality of care that people receive. You can find out more and sing their petition here.

One of our own care workers, Ashley – a Comfort Call care worker at the Meadow Court scheme in Croxteth, has gotten involved by doing an interview with Onward Housing, which you can read here. In the interview, Ashley talks about the importance of supporting people with the condition as well as some practical tips for anyone who thinks they, or a relative, may have early onset dementia.

Also Paul Kershaw, Regional Trainer in the North West is holding a Dementia Awareness day in Poppy House today. Paul will be will issuing badges and certificates for those attending the day to recognise their role as a dementia champion. The team are also having a raffle to raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Society.

Changes at City & County

We wanted to update you all on a new face in the City & County family.

We are delighted this week to welcome Helen Storey, who joins us as Group Legal Counsel, meaning that for the first time we have our own professional legal resource within the organisation.

Helen will be focusing much of her energies on employment law, providing invaluable support to the HR team, but will also perform a generalised legal advisory role from contract and commercial matters to data protection. We are sure you will join us in welcoming Helen to the City & County family.

Appreciating an assist at Amblecote Gardens

Joanne Brannen, Regional Manager – North West and West Yorkshire sent us some fantastic feedback for Maria Giverin and the Comfort Call team at the Amblecote Gardens Extra Care scheme in Manchester.

One service user had experienced a particularly difficult period due to a water leak in his apartment – thankfully quickly resolved by the housing provider – and wanted to acknowledge the support that our care team had given, writing:

“My reason for writing is to acknowledge the care and comfort afforded by your staff. The Care Manager Maria Giverin and her team were exceptional in ensuring my needs were met, making certain I was not deteriorating, offering every assistance and making regular checks at a time that was most distressing for me.

“The commitment, professionalism and genuine concern for my wellbeing was exemplary and exceptional from all the care staff and they showed themselves to be a commendable credit to Comfort Call. All too often the care workers are under appreciated and rarely acknowledged, never mind given a simple ‘thanks’. It should not go without comment that the past 14 months have been a significant challenge for your profession.

“Please thank Maria and her staff for the sterling work they have done to make me comfortable and safe and assure them of my wholehearted support in these appalling circumstances.”

Thank you to Maria and the team for making sure that this vulnerable service user was kept comfortable and safe during what must have been a challenging time for everyone involved. As the service user states, it’s often the smaller things we all do that can go unappreciated, but his gratitude for your help is clear to see.

Kent County Council share a story from Bowles Lodge

Magdalena Trepczynska, Regional Manager – South shared with us an article written from the perspective of a service user, Constance, at the Bowles Lodge Extra Care scheme in Kent. Kent SCP

Featured in Kent County Council’s communications – including their Adult Social Care Provider Bulletin – the story is seen through the eyes of Constance’s daughter, Margaret:

Constance had been living in her own house in Hawkhurst for 40 years and her daughter Margaret lives nearby. Over time, she became very dependent on Margaret’s support, time and help at all times during the day and night. She would often call her during the night because she was scared or frightened.

Constance was very depressed and would often tell Margaret that she couldn’t cope and didn’t know what to do and there was no point in being here. She also stopped going out on her own and would only go out if Margaret took her out, so she became quite isolated as well.

In July 2020, Constance was offered a one bed flat at Bowles Lodge in Hawkhurst which she accepted. Constance suddenly became very unsure of everything and nearly didn’t accept the tenancy. The scheme assistant offered some solutions to help Constance and her family consider the situation for her and Margaret was very grateful for the way in which this was handled which resulted in Constance signing her tenancy agreement and starting her tenancy at Bowles Lodge.

Since then: Here is the turning point, Margaret says her mum is now very happy and moving into her new home at Bowles Lodge has made all the difference. Constance can move around her flat with ease which has enabled her to become more active. She enjoys a walk around the scheme, safe in the knowledge that there is a proper path that she can follow, and she can enjoy the garden and say hello to people in passing. She is making new friends and enjoys eating in the restaurant and has also taken to doing a bit of cooking herself, which she hasn’t done in a while. Margaret says that she is now wanting to do things and to be independent. She has also started knitting again. Margaret says the move to Bowles Lodge has given her mum her life back and her confidence is returning too, and she is enjoying life.

Constance loves living at Bowles Lodge, she says the setting is so nice, and views are wonderful including the view of the church steeple which are important things to her.

From Margaret’s point of view, her mum’s move has now given her a new direction. As she says she loves her mum very much and when her mum was living in her house, she put her mum first, but now she is safe in the knowledge that her mum is safe and happy and she now has time for herself and spending time with her mum is a real pleasure all the time. In the words of Margaret, she has got her mum back!

Thanks for sharing Magda. This story really brings home the independence and reassurance that living in an Extra Care scheme such as Bowles Lodge provides to people like Constance and Margaret.

Joanne is taking on ‘The Wall’ for families affected by suicide

Joanne Brannen contact us this week to tell us about her upcoming charity challenge in aid of the If u Care Share Foundation, who provide prevention, intervention training and support of those affected by suicide. 

Joanne explained her very personal reason for support this cause, telling us, “As some of you know my nephew, Jamie committed suicide last month. He lived with post-traumatic stress disorder after the death of my sister, Kelly which he was witness to. If U Care Share Foundation have been in contact with my devastated family and have offered to support them with the necessary help they desperately need.”

Joanne continued, “I want to help the charity with some fundraising. I am taking part in ‘The Wall’ ultra-marathon this year which is over 70 miles long – and every single step will be in memory of my nephew who simply missed his Mam.”

You can read more about Joanne’s challenge and support with a donation on her Just Giving page.

Joanne finished by saying, “Everyone has already been so kind and generous but if you can just spare £1 I will be eternally grateful”.

Time for tea in Wigan

Richard Wheatley, Regional Manager – North West, has asked us to pass on a big ‘thank you’ to Janice Barber, branch manager in Wigan. 

Wigan care

When a service user had her 80th birthday approaching, Janice did everything she could to mark the big occasion. Inviting the service user in to the office to celebrate, Janice and the team arranged a fabulous birthday tea party – COVID-secure of course.

 

Richard told us, “It is great to see how passionate the team are about making a difference to someone’s life, especially given these unprecedented times. Well done Team Wigan!” We couldn’t agree more.

 

Bringing back memories at Westbourne Park Day Centre

Finally, Joanna Budhu, Day Centre Coordinator for London Care, has asked if anyone has any vintage objects that could help service users reminisce at Westbourne Park Day Centre. Westbourne Park Day Centre

The specialist dementia day centre is looking for any 1945 – 1965 objects that could be used for reminiscence activities, manual handling, and sensory sessions. These could be old appliances, postcards, objects of everyday use, packaging from branded products or anything that could bring back memories from those years.

Please contact Joanna at Joanna.Budhu@cchmail.co.uk if you have anything to donate.

We are delighted to announce that Lynn Krige will be joining as the new Chief Financial Officer for City & County Healthcare Group from Monday 17th May. Lynn will be replacing Nick Goodban in this capacity and will report to our CEO, James Thorburn.

Nick Goodban Lynn Krige City & County

Nick Goodban, our previous Finance Director, is moving to a new role as Director for Mergers & Acquisitions. Nick has led our finance function as well as our mergers and acquisitions activity for many years. Given the importance of acquisitions and commercial deal-making to our strategic plans, we have made the decision to split the role – allowing both Lynn and Nick to dedicate their focus on each area.

Lynn is a seasoned CFO and Board Member in both privately-owned and listed businesses, and joins us from Well Pharmacy – where she was CFO in an £800m turnover business with over 750 pharmacies nationwide. Prior to this, Lynn was CFO at the inspection services business British Engineering Services and at the equipment supply business Speedy Hire PLC. Lynn was also for many years at John Laing PLC, where latterly she was Group Finance Director and a Board Member.

Lynn grew up in South Africa but has spent the last 20 years in the UK and now lives with her family in West Lancashire. We are delighted that Lynn is joining the team and ask for everyone’s help and support as she goes through her induction and gets to know the business.

Care Heroes Awards: Lifetime Achievement Award

This week we’re celebrating our Lifetime Achievement Award. This award recognises a care or support worker who has been employed continuously for ten or more years and has demonstrated great commitment to the highest standards of care support.

 

Winner: Abiola Abbati – London Care, East London

Delivering care through the coronavirus pandemic has not been an easy task for any of our dedicated staff. But, at a sprightly 78 years young, not even COVID-19 could stop Abiola! A dedicated member of the London Care team since 2003, Abiola continues to deliver fantastic care to all of her service users despite everything that’s happened over the last 12 months.

When the pandemic hit, Abiola refused to stop working, saying “I need to look after my service users, they need me”. Furthermore, even Abiola’s family couldn’t get in the way of her dedication to those she cares for. They contacted her manager to ask of Abiola could take a break during the pandemic – but Abiola chose to continue looking after her service users anyway, who all appreciated how much she was doing for them. One service user’s daughter even commented, “I am so grateful for Abbi, my mum would be dead if it wasn’t for her”.

Our judges were stunned by Abiola’s commitment, with one saying: “She refused to stand down during covid at the grand age of 78 years; she was thinks of others before herself and has clearly delivered a professional and high standard of care. Seventeen years is a huge achievement and demonstrates so much commitment to her profession.”

Another fed back, “Age is no barrier! Well done Abiola, she is a model example to us all. She clearly enjoys her work, is very committed and care about people, and I’m delighted she still continues to make such an impact on service users’ lives.”

Congratulations to our finalists

A huge well done to our other finalists this year – Carrie Prince from Sagecare Squires Gate and Violet Hare from the Guardian Homecare team in Devon.

Carrie and her family have had far from the easiest time recently. After her husband unfortunately had a sudden stroke and ended up in hospital, Carrie was 100% sure she would have to give up the job she loves and her service users to support her husband full time. However, alongside supporting her husband’s recovery however, Carrie has committed to finding time to continue seeing the service users she cares so much about.

Despite everything that’s happened, Carrie’s regional manager told us, “She is always a breath of fresh air. Carrie has been an absolute pleasure to work with for both the company and her service users. Carrie has so many ‘good news’ stories, it is hard to pick one example. This company needs more staff like Carrie. We would be lost without her as would her colleagues and service users.”

When nominating Violet Hare, Katie Jewell told us that “Violet is the fittest 65 year old the team know!” Since 2002 she has been working fulltime and walking her run come any weather conditions. Through the snow in 2018 to the flooding in 2019, Violet has never failed to reach her clients and provide the fantastic care she is renowned for.

Violet has demonstrated a lifetime of caring for other and putting her clients first in all circumstances. In recent months, Violet has shown huge commitment and dedication to her clients – and City & County – by increasing her hours to cover clients during the COVID-19 pandemic. She even gave up her days off to support another area when their staff had to shield. Katie finished by saying, “Violet continues to walk the miles needed to do her job, we hope she continues for many more years, she is amazing!”

A huge well done to each and every one of our winners and finalists.

Vaccines for anyone aged over 42

Our care workers have been able to obtain a COVID-19 vaccination for some time now, but this week it was announced that everyone over 42 years of age is now eligible and can book their jabs directly via the National Booking Service.

Whether you are a care worker or over 42, or both, there should be no obstacle to your getting your vaccine. If you haven’t already been able to get one through work or your GP, you can book your appointment directly here.

We encourage everyone offered a vaccine to have one, subject to individual clinical advice.

Stress Awareness Month – April

Stress Awareness Month is held every April, to increase public awareness about both the causes and cures for stress.

This year, more than ever, millions of us around the UK are experiencing high levels of stress and it is damaging our health. Stress is a significant factor in mental health problems including anxiety and depression. It is also linked to physical health problems like heart disease, problems with our immune system, insomnia and digestive problems.

It is so important that we take time to think about what is causing us personal stress and then look for ways to help reduce our stress levels.

Here are some ideas to help you take the first steps on a stress awareness journey.

30-day challenge

Attached is a 30 day challenge on stress awareness, created by Able Futures, which gives you 30 little things you can try to help you relax, connect with positive distractions and look after yourself so that you may feel a little more able to cope with the impact of stress.

It take 30 days to turn actions into habits. The 30-day challenge will maximise your chance of turning useful knowledge and techniques into positive behavioural changes. Why not start today!

Stress Management Society

The organisers of Stress Awareness Month offer a range of resources from individual stress tests to free stress guides. Click here to visit their website.

Contract wins for Abacare

Despite the pandemic, our Bids and Contracts team are hard at work securing new contracts across the country for City & County. We’re very pleased to confirm two recent success in Wales for Abacare.

Firstly, there’s a brand new Extra Care scheme in Denbighshire, called Awel Y Dyffryn. It’s a new build and we’re excited to be able to shape the services as Abacare. Big thanks to Nicky Tucker, Neil Griffiths, Nicola Brown and Paul Dougherty – as well as everyone else involved in the hard work on this bid.

Secondly, we’ve also secured a zoned block contract in Caerphilly of approximately 300 hours a week after a mini competition caused by a provider failure. Thanks again to Nicky Tucker as well as Caroline Jones and Samantha Price for their work on this successful bid.

Birthday celebrations for Jane at ICCM

Finally, Cat Saxon at ICCM let us know about a big celebration at their office last week. Cat told us, “Jane Taylor our Head of Practice turned 50, so we spoilt and surprised her with a decorated office, some beautiful flowers, a gorgeous Radley handbag and some Hugo Boss earrings.”

Cat continued, “Jane started with us last June after HSG Complex Care merged with ICCM and we wanted to show her that she’s really part of the team and help her celebrate this big birthday.”

Happy Birthday Jane, we hope you had a wonderful day.

Care Heroes Awards: Changing Lives Award

This week we’re celebrating our Changing Lives Award. This award recognises care or support workers who have supported a service user to achieve significant change outcomes that have made a dramatic impact on that person’s life.

Winner: Helen Croshaw, Teresa Knight and Silvia Mares – HomeLife Carers

In nominating this terrific trio, their regional manager – Katie Jewell – told us that their 89 year-old service user lives with debilitating dementia. Making his situation even more challenging, he also lives isolated and alone in one of the most rural parts of Devon.

However, since 2017 the dedicated team of Helen, Teresa and Silvia have worked harder and harder to support him as his dementia has worsened. He adores his care workers as they help with every element of his life – from the basics of personal care to helping him choose his own food and clothing – and nothing is too much trouble. With their support he lives as independently as possible.

The service user’s social worker commented on their achievements, “He is one of our most venerable clients, he has no next of kin and wants to remain living in his own home. These care workers have changed his life – he looks completely different from when I first met him. I cannot impress on you that if it was not for your care team’s commitment and care, he would be residing in a care home. Those girls travel miles in all weather conditions every day of the year to keep him safe. There are not enough words to describe how special they are.”

Our judges reflected on the feedback, saying: “Caring for someone with advanced dementia can be a challenge. When social service recognise that our care and support has changed someone’s life we must take pride in what we have done.”

Congratulations to our finalists

A huge well done to our other finalists this year – Clare Shedwick in Tameside and Nadine Menelaou from the London Care East London team.

Clare worked closely with a service user who wasn’t able to be with his wife at the time of passing, and nor could he go to the funeral. Clare’s manager explained to us how she showed great empathy and made sure that he was coping.

Calling the service user daily, Clare helped him to come to terms with his wife’s passing. Clare even arranged to get him a pillow with his wife picture on as well as a balloon that he could write a message on and release this into the sky. Clare said that she has never seen the service user look so happy, knowing that he could finally say his goodbyes to his wife.

Nadine’s service user contacted the branch directly to recommend her – writing that, “She makes me feel safe and loved. As I was going through end of life, my hope was gone and I gave up. I was told I’d be looked after in hospice until my last hour, but Nadine was always reminding me all is going to be fine.”

“It’s through Nadine that I have accepted my current state and being able to be cared for in my own property as I wished. I’ve regained my strengths and she’s helped me to be able to talk about my plan, my wishes and who I would like to be involved in my end of life care. She is always there to encourage me and support me emotionally. Thank you for giving me Nadine.”

A huge thank you to each and every one of our winners and finalists. You’ve each made a huge impact on the lives of these most vulnerable service users.

Woolly wildlife in Wigan

Janice Barber, one of our Sagecare Branch Managers, wrote in this week to recognise Caroline Unsworth – a care worker working in Wigan. Caroline has kindly knitted two care bears for the local children’s hospital in collaboration with care providers on the Wigan contract.

Janice told us, “The wool was used from a lovely lady whose passion was knitting and had bags on wool she wanted to donate to a good cause at the end of her life. She wanted it to be put to good use, so the providers joined together and handed out bags of wool to our knitters – who each came up with a care bear idea,”

Caroline’s creations are Ali the Unicorn and Leo the lion, who were named by her daughter. The two colourful characters will be judged alongside the other entries by Wigan council.

Janice said, “We are super grateful that Caroline wanted to be a part of the competition and we would like to wish her good luck in from all of us at the Wigan branch!”

Best of luck Caroline – they look like clear winners to us!

Celebrating Purple Day at ICCM

On Friday 26th March it was Purple Day, an international event and an opportunity to get everyone talking about Epilepsy – raising both awareness of the condition and vital funds.

Epilepsy is a condition that affects the brain and is one of the most common serious neurological conditions in the world. It affects around 600,000 people in the UK, meaning that almost 1 in 100 people in the UK have epilepsy. Around 87 people are diagnosed with epilepsy in the UK every day.

Epilepsy can start at any age and there are many different types. Some types of epilepsy last for a limited time and the person eventually stops having seizures. But for many people epilepsy is a life-long condition.

One of ICCM’s clients had spent the week marking the occasion at home, and the care workers have supported the clients on person-centred Sensory Adventure focusing on sight, sound, smell, taste and touch.

ICCM office staff and managers were also asked to wear something purple on Friday, please see below some of the pictures of some of our clients, care workers,  management team and office staff.

The tremendous care team have embraced the theme with great gusto. Sporting wigs and T-shirts on shift, they raised a rather nifty £50 for the charity ‘Young Epilepsy’ with a special ‘Guess The Purple Item’ fundraising card.

A huge well done to everyone involved, and such a fantastic cause that’s close to so many of those who you all support.

Can you outdo Zach’s hairdo?

Our IT Estates Manager, Zach Papagno, contacted us this week to show off his impressive lockdown locks. The last 12 months have seen r

estrictions on haircuts and other services across the county, and our Zach has definitely undergone a tremendous transformation waiting for them to reopen.

This got us thinking, who at City & County has undergone the biggest visual makeover during the pandemic? We need to know:

Can you beat Zach’s brilliant bouffant?

Have you been building a buff bod?

Or, is your beard beyond besting?

If you think that you’re borderline unrecognisable because of lockdown, then let us know. Send your before and after pictures to communications@candchealthcare.co.uk by Friday 7th May and we’ll put your transformations to a vote to find out champion.

There could even be a prize for our ultimate winner…

Care Heroes Awards: Service of the Year Award

This week we’re celebrating our Service of the Year Award. New for this year, the Service of the Year Award recognises domiciliary care, Extra Care or complex care branches, as well as agency locations, which have shown an outstanding all-round performance and excellence over the past year.

Winner: HSG, Manchester

Following the joining-together of the former Didsbury and Sale HSG branches, the Manchester team have emerged demonstrating their commitment and dedication to care delivery from the get-go. As a newer member of the City & County family, they not only embraced digitisation across their services, but also started a new contract with Manchester City Council within their first few months.

Despite all the changes, the team – supported area manager Shelly – have continued to maintain high standards of service delivery, even completing an office move from to Trafford in the process. Achieving sustained growth in their services, the Manchester team at HSG have driven the branch forward, adapting quickly to City & County’s policies and procedures.

In nominating the team, their regional Director – Wendy McCall – described HSG Manchester as “an absolute pleasure to work with”.  Wendy was particularly appreciative of the team’s support when they were able to offer staff to assist in other branches in the area.

Our judges commented on their achievements, “care at home is all about delivering a personalised service and this team have done this in abundance. The branch have dealt with challenges and changes without affecting the service delivery.”

Congratulations to our finalists

A huge well done to our other finalists this year – Surrey SCP in Redhill, and the combined HSG and Abacare branch in Wrexham.

The Redhill team were noted for delivering personalised service to every one of its clients – even supplying parcels of toiletries and food to clients when needed. The team’s contributions to the local community were also a highlight before COVID-19 intervened, including organising parties for clients and inviting some to lunch in the café on the aerodrome when it was their birthday. In her nomination for the Redhill team, Sarah Thomas told us, “SCP Surrey is definitely the branch that I would refer my friends and family to if they ever need care for a relative”. Huge praise indeed.

The team in Wrexham have faced it all in what was an incredibly challenging year for the branch. The joining of the HSG and Abacare teams, new processes and digital practices, and – to top it all – North Wales moving in and out of lockdown through the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the difficulties they’ve faced, our judges recognised just well the team had managed to keep focused on delivering care and ensuring their clients’ safety. A branch of true team players – da iawn Wrecsam!

Vaccines and Ramadan

To mark the most holy month in the Islamic calendar, many of our staff will be observing Ramadan and fasting during the day through the coming weeks. As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout overlaps with the observances this year, the NHS and Public Health England have launched a campaign to confirm that people can have COVID-19 vaccinations whilst fasting.

If you or members of your team are fasting and you want to help share the campaign, you can download the posters from the NHS website here.

You can also read more about how COVID-19 testing and vaccinations are viewed in relation to fasting – as well as general advice on minimising the risk of infection during Ramadan – on the British Islamic Medical Association website.

Our advice remains that everyone who is offered a vaccine should take up the offer, subject to individual clinical advice.

EU Settlement Scheme

Don’t forget that the Home Office are urging EU nationals living in the UK to apply for status to live and work in the UK post Brexit. We wanted to remind any of you that are EU nationals, and who haven’t already done applied for settled status, that you have until the 30th June 2021 to make your application.

Any EU national living in the UK is not protected unless they make an online application to the Home Office under the Settlement Scheme by the 30th June 2021. Failing to apply will mean that they may not have a legal right to live and work in this country.

Every EU national and their family will need to make an application before the deadline of 30 June 2021. Applications are free of charge and can be made via the Government website here.

Shelling-out for good causes in Tameside

One of our branch managers, Vicki Kinder, has told us about a, eggs-traordinary fundraising initiative in Tameside. The Careline Homecare and Comfort Call teams in the area set out to raise funds for two fantastic charities – their local hospice, Willow Wood, and the Alzheimer’s Society.

The office staff and regional manager, Jo Brannen, donated chocolate eggs and other Easter-themed goodies for a raffle at the branch. The event raised a massive £400 in total, which the teams split equally between the chosen charities.

Vicki also tells us that – lockdown allowing – the teams are planning to holding a further coffee morning in May to raise some more funds for these great causes. Great work everyone, we’re sure that both organisations hugely appreciated your donations.

Catherine’s going the distance for the MS Society

Finally, Catherine Spence, one of our Regional Trainers in the North East is taking on not just one, but two running events later this year in support of people living with Multiple Sclerosis. Fundraising for the MS Society, the events will fund research, treatment and support for those living with the condition.

Catherine has a personal desire to help, as she has a very close friend who supports her partner to live with Multiple Sclerosis. Catherine told us, “I’m at it again, it’s that time of year on the ‘run-up’ to the famed Great North Run. This year I have increased my challenge to not just completing the Great North Run in a record time, but also to follow this with the full marathon at the Kielder reservoir.”

Catherine continued, “This will be the longest distance I have ever run and I would deeply appreciate any support people would be willing to give.”

You can find out more about Catherine’s cause and support the challenge on her Just Giving page. The Great North Run takes place on 12th September, and the Keilder reservoir marathon is less than a month later on 3rd October.