Raj and Abdul are our Care Heroes!

Held last month at the Birmingham Hilton Metropole, we bring you the stories behind the winners at this year’s Care Heroes Awards.

The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to a care or support worker who has been continuously employed by one of the group’s operating companies for ten years or more and has demonstrated “great commitment to the highest standards of care support”. The judges in this category were CEO, James Thorburn, Regional Director, Lorna Muir, and Head of Complex Care Sally Wheeler and the worthy winner was Raj Wilkinson from  Careline Homecare in Darlington.

Raj began working as a care worker in 1994 and has an exceptional twenty-five years continuous service with Careline Homecare and at the extraordinary age of 83 continues to provide outstanding care.

Care Heroes Awards

Nominating her for the award, Branch Manager, Bronwen Roberts, told us how Raj “also spends a huge amount of time volunteering in her local community … [and] acts as an interpreter in her local day centre and also uses her huge experience and knowledge to run a dementia group, always putting the needs of others before herself.” Browen continued, “[Raj] is a completely selfless person who always puts others first and I am very proud to have her as part of our team.” We couldn’t agree more – well done, Raj!

The last, but by no means the least, of this year’s prizes was for Care or Support Worker of the Year, judged by Managing Director, Caleb Atkins, and Regional Directors, Charlotte Donald, and Wendy McCall. The award recognises “any care or support worker who has embodied the group’s values and behaviours in every aspect of their work.”

Winner Abdul Kargbo (right) arrived one morning at the home of a younger service user with whom he had developed a close working relationship to find the young man collapsed and unresponsive. Despite Abdul’s efforts to resuscitate, the young man sadly died.

Despite this traumatic experience, Abdul found the strength to give evidence at the ensuing coroner’s inquest, an intimidating and emotional experience for anyone. Nevertheless, he came across as calm and knowledgeable, leading the coroner to gain the “overwhelming impression that the carers were of a very high standard”.

Area Manager, Milka Kimani told us that she felt his overall record and his particular conduct in the face of tragedy “requires recognition”. It certainly does and everyone at the Care Heroes Awards was touched by Abdul’s humility in spite of a dreadful ordeal.

Congratulations once again to all our finalists and winners. We hope that their amazing stories inspire you to submit nominations for next year’s awards!

Double ‘good’ for London Care branches

Great news from London Care last week as two of its busiest operating locations received ‘good’ ratings from the Care Quality Commission.

The Holloway office (actually now nearer Finsbury Park) achieved ‘good’ ratings in all but one domains, with inspectors finding “improvements in several areas of the service provision” and remarking in particular on the “new online care planning system [Access Care Planning] which helped staff to provide responsive, individualised and considerate care.”


The South London office mirrored Holloway’s reports, also gaining ‘good’ ratings across all but one domain.

Providing home care services at scale in the capital has its own peculiar challenges, but both branches have shown that it is possible to deliver great care through dedication and commitment. Congratulations to managers Elaine Waller and Bunmi Johnson for their continued hard work.

Willow Barns supports ambulance charity

Tenants and staff at Comfort Call’s Willow Barns Extra Care scheme in Stoke-on-Trent had a great charity fundraiser at the end of July.

Manager Sharon Roberts wrote to tell us how the scheme raised nearly £500 for TASC, a young charity which provides support to present and past ambulance staff and their families in time of need.

The charity night featured a singer and a delicious spread along with great raffle prizes and a few games of bingo. All agreed that it was a fun way to raise money for a great cause. Some of the team are pictured below handing over the money raised to TASC.

Volunteers get arty at Pullen Day Centre

Pullen Day Centre was a hub of activity again at the end of July when volunteers supported tenants with arts, crafts and games.

The centre is lucky enough to receive visits from volunteers from transport company BEIS a few times a year, organised in partnership with charity One Westminster. “The clients always have such fun with them,” said Coordinator Maria Gerardo.

The activities on this occasion included potato block printing and quizzes in which clients could win prizes. Clients and volunteers also enjoyed an afternoon tea.

Carol Braves the Shave on This Morning

We told you last week about ICCM’s Carol Henson’s plans to shave her head in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support, but even Carol wasn’t expecting to go through with it on live TV! 

Having announced her intentions, Carol was approached by producers from ITV’s This Morning and on Friday, she bravely surrendered herself to the hairdresser’s clippers in front of millions of viewers!

If you missed Carol’s surprisingly calm performance, you can still see it on the ITV website here and donate to Macmillan here.

And Macmillan are not the only beneficiaries. Carol’s hair has been donated to the Little Princess Trust, which makes wigs for children going through chemotherapy. Carol, we bow down to you and your very smooth head!

On top of the world for the WWF

Director of Policy and Communications Max Wurr and his daughter Lana scaled the UK’s highest mountain on Thursday last week in aid of the World Wildlife Fund.

On what turned out to be the only dry day in the West of Scotland last week, Max and Lana, who turned eleven this Sunday, made it up and down the 1345-metre peak of Ben Nevis (right) in around seven hours, enjoying magnificent views across the Highlands.

Lana has already hit her fundraising target of £1000, but if you would still like to sponsor her, your donations would still be very welcome – you can visit her Justgiving page here. Lana sends her sincere thanks to everyone that has supported her so far.

There’s also still time to sponsor Northeast Regional Manager Chris Noble as she runs for Sepsis UK in the Great North Run on 8th September – visit her fundraising page here.

March 2019

Congratulations to Sally Wheeler who has accepted a new role as Group Head of Complex Care.

Having previously been a Regional Director and, since last year, head of ICCM, Sally is already well known within the Group. Her new appointment will bring both ICCM and SCP Complex Care into the same reporting line.

Both businesses are performing strongly and Sally’s priority will be to maintain the excellent quality of care delivered by both companies, whilst supporting sustainable growth.

We wish Sally the best of luck in her new role.

March 2019

There were joyous scenes in the Northeast this week when Comfort Call’s Hebburn branch hosted a special event for service users at Perth Green Community Centre.

Around sixty people attended the get-together, which featured musical entertainment and afternoon tea. Each guest also received a goodie bag and a branded Comfort Call cupcake!

Regional Manager Bernie Wyllie said, “the event was absolutely amazing. There have been a lot of day centres closed, so we wanted to do something nice for them and to give them the opportunity to get together.”

“We had two friends who had not seen each other for 20 years meeting for the first time,” continued Bernie, “and one lady who had not been out of the house at all this year. The lady had come along with her daughter-in-law, and when there was a break in a song, she just burst into singing. Her family couldn’t believe it, and everyone was joining in and clapping.”

Our thanks go to the staff at Perth Green and local firm Del’s Travel who helped with getting people to the Community Centre and above all to the staff and management at Comfort Call Hebburn for staging such a memorable event. Let’s hope some more branches are inspired to go that extra mile to make a real difference to the lives of the people we support.

February 2019

On Sunday 12th May, Abacare Bangor’s Operations Executive, Jodie Taplin, will be running the ‘Race for Life’ in aid of Cancer Research UK.

Jodie was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma type B cancer last May and after surgery, chemo and radiotherapy and with further surgery still to come, she has continued to carry out her role, being heavily involved in taking on the tender in Anglesey which Bangor office won. She was also able to go ahead with her wedding.

We’re sure that colleagues across the group will want to lend their support to Jodie . To sponsor her, please visit her fundraising page here.

We’ll look forward to bringing you further news after the race in May – good luck, Jodie, from all of us!


February 2019

Staff at Custom Care in Wolverhampton raised over £7000 for charity in 2018 – an extraordinary sum!

Charities that benefited from the team’s amazing generosity and commitment included Guide Dogs UK and Breast Cancer UK.

Local charities received support too; money was also raised for Breast Friends, which supports people dealing with breast cancer.

Our thanks and respect go to all those that raised funds or donated their hard-earned money to these worthy causes – what a fantastic achievement!

Special mention also goes to the IT team, who raised £75 for Save The Children at their Christmas Jumper Day; big thanks to everyone that took part and donated there.

January 2019

On Monday 14th January, City & County completed the acquisition of a significant portion of business from fellow home care provider, Carewatch.

CEO James Thorburn writes, “we are delighted to welcome twenty new branches and five Extra Care facilities into the City and County Healthcare Group. The branches are in Scotland, the North West of England, Wales and London.”

“In the immediate,” continues James, “the transferring Carewatch branches will run as before under the Carewatch brand, supported by Carewatch. Over the next six months we will rebrand each branch into one of our existing regional brands and move each branch onto City & County operational systems and support. Immediately our priority will be the continuity of quality care in those transferring branches.”

We welcome our new colleagues from Carewatch on board and very much look forward to this exciting next chapter in the City & County story.

January 2019

Searson Thompson, who receives support from Abacare, is believed to be the oldest man in Wales after he reached the tender age of 107 last month!

As reported in the Cambrian News, Mr Thompson, who was born three years before the start of the First World War, still lives at home in Aberdyfi, celebrated his birthday with family and friends after receiving his fourth telegram from the Queen!

We wish Mr Thompson a very happy birthday and here’s to a good few more!

December 2018

A seasonal flurry of fundraising across the group has brought some early Christmas cheer to those taking part as well as the charities that have benefited.

Staff at Hare Hill Extra Care scheme in Rochdale raised over £45 with their Christmas jumper day and a carol service (right) with tenants and visiting children.

The team at ISS Healthcare have been making donations throughout December of food and clothes for Cardiff’s
Huggett Centre, which supports homeless people in the city.

And at Poppy House Extra Care scheme in Ashton-under-Lyne, a Christmas Jumper Day (right) raised an amazing £50 for Save the Children.

In Leeds, the Comfort Call team also got well into the festive spirit when they raised £65 for the Alzheimer’s Society at their Elf Day on 7th December.

And perhaps most remarkable of all, we have heard from our colleagues at Comfort Call in Middlesbrough that their recent Elf Day raised an absolutely astonishing £700, also for the Alzheimer’s Society!

It makes us very proud to see how much compassion and goodwill there is out there among our huge workforce; thank you to each and every one of you for showing that you care.

December 2018

Service users and staff alike at Comfort Call in Rotherham had an amazing day on 4th December at their inaugural service user luncheon.

Hosted by Regional Director Wendy McCall, Regional Manager Louise Pigott and the Rotherham branch team and care workers, the event took place in the Parish Hall in Thrybergh with financial support from local businesses.

Service users and their family carers were offered transport to attend the event. On arrival each received a goody bag of gifts and sweets.

Guests also enjoyed an informative fire safety presentation by South Yorkshire Community Fire Officers and tucked into a selection of Asian food, sandwiches, cakes, buns and desserts.

After lunch, there were prizes up for grabs in the raffle and bingo and care worker Stevie and her partner entertained everyone with some live music, with which the crowd joined in enthusiastically.

Local media covered the luncheon, which everyone agreed had been a roaring success. We’re sure this wonderful event will inspire other branches to go the extra mile to make great memories for their service users, whilst tackling social isolation.

December 2017

Natalie Beckett, a health care assistant for Kent SCP, was recently recognised at the National Care Awards as Apprentice of the Year.


Natalie moved into Health and Social Care after working in childcare and found it instantly suited her kind and compassionate nature.  She is only a third of the way through her qualification but has already completed 63% of the programme due to her enthusiasm and dedication.  Many of Natalie’s patients interact only with her on some days, therefore, an important role is her listening and communication skills. Her company and conversation is extremely important to them.

Natalie works with a range of conditions including Parkinson’s and dementia, both of which can be particularly challenging. Often regular service users don’t recognise her, ask endless questions and try to leave the house. Natalie has a calm chat with them for half an hour and they start to relax and feel content.


One of the areas Natalie focuses most heavily on is the patients’ care plans, reading them carefully and reporting immediately on any aspects that need updating depending on their condition.


Part of the role that Natalie clearly excels in is the complete trust she builds with the patients’ partners, children and friends. The faith they have in her to care for their loved one is unwavering.


“Natalie has been an excellent learner since the start of her Level 2 course,” said Buki Akilapa, her Lifetime Training Care Trainer.  “Natalie is such a hardworking carer. Working many hours every day whilst driving round in the community to make sure she attends to all her clients at the scheduled time and supporting them in the best possible way. During her observations, her clients have all said how extremely lucky they were to have Natalie. She was calm and very supportive at all times and communicated effectively to make sure that she gives them the best possible care.


“Natalie gave choices to her clients and she also respected their wishes while using the care plans and risk assessments as guidelines during her observations. She always called the office if she felt something was not right with any client or their care plans. She made sure that the care plans were updated regularly as the needs and abilities of her clients change. She has very good knowledge of using person centred approaches to improve the quality of life of the clients. She was able to encourage their active participation through inclusive practice during her observations and she ensured that all clients were treated the same way to promote equality.


“Natalie deserves an award for being truly exceptional at work and on her course. I am very proud of her and feel very lucky to be her trainer. I have learnt a lot from her too and will be overjoyed if she gets the award.”