Don’t forget the rules on PPE and self-isolation

We’re all aware of the PPE rules and strict infection control measures that our care teams are following to protect our staff and service users during the pandemic. But, even if you work in one of our offices – or only occasionally visit a City & County work location – there are still rules we all have to follow to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Here’s a quick reminder of what you need to do:

Rules on PPE for all office staff

  • A medical grade mask or cloth face covering MUST be worn correctly at all times when attending an office.
  • Social distancing rules MUST be followed whilst taking breaks in designated rest areas, inside or outside.
  • Where no designated rest area is available, breaks MUST be taken in a socially distant manner and a mask MUST be put on immediately upon completion of eating or drinking.
  • Staff wearing identifiable company uniform in public spaces MUST adhere to government rules on social distancing and the wearing of face coverings.
  • Managers MUST ensure the covid secure workplace risk assessment is adhered to and any breaches are addressed immediately.

Rules on self-isolation for all staff

  • You MUST NOT attend work if you have been advised by Test and Trace to self-isolate.
  • You MUST NOT attend work if you have covid symptoms and meet the criteria for self-isolation.
  • No member of staff is to instruct another member of staff to work if they are required to self-isolate.

By following the rules, we can all help reduce the risks of the spreading the virus – helping to keep everyone safe.

25 years of success for committed Cath

Christine Noble, Regional Manager North East, wanted to share a celebration of Cath Stobbs’s 25 years as a Branch Manager. Cath originally started with Community Homecare services in 1996 and joined City & County in 2012 when the branch became part of Careline Homecare.

Christine told us, “Cath is very well respected in our region, she is always the first to offer and help support any of the teams, the relationships she has with all her staff at all levels is exceptional. Cath is well known for her witty comments and always turning everything into a positive.”

Cath has always maintained excellent relationships with the local authorities she works with – including the commissioning team at Redcar, who commented, “Cath has been central to the longstanding excellent relationship with the local authority has been a fantastic representative in the sector. Cath shares her experience with others and shows commitment to maintain stability and support development. At times of difficulty Cath is the calm in the storm.”

The Middlesbrough commissioning team also sent their thoughts on Cath’s achievements, saying, “It’s always a pleasure working with Cath, we enjoy a transparent and open relationship and she has always been dedicated and committed to providing a service to the residents of Middlesbrough. A sense of humour helps! Well done Cath, we look forward to a continued successful partnership.”

Well done Cath, thanks for your hard work and dedication over the last 25 years. We look forward to many more years of your positive impact in the City & County family.

Moving feedback for Shamim in Darwen

We received some heart-warming feedback from the son of a service user this week. Praising the work of his care worker, the family wanted to recognise the impact that Shamim had on their father’s life, writing:

“You need to know how highly my father thought, not only of you as a person, but also how good you are at your job. You may not have cared for him for long, but in the time you spent with him, you had a positive impact on his life.

“Every day I visited him, he talked about you. My father was very hard to please, however you made an impression on him that he kept until the day he died.

“Thanks again for everything you did for him.”

Thank you for your great work Shamim. It’s clear just how much of a difference you made, not only to the service user, but also on his wider family.

Marking a magnificent manager in Westminster

The London Care team in Westminster recently recognised their regional manager, Kasia Brzyscz, with a well-deserved certificate of ‘’The Best Manager of the World’’. The team arranged the certificate to say “thank you” for the help and support Kasia has given them all under challenging conditions during the pandemic.

In particular, the team were proud of the way that Kasia organised vaccines and tests to protect each care worker – on top of the already hectic workload in the borough.

Sarah-Catherine Greaves, Inspector for Adult Social Care in the area, was moved by the team’s appreciation for Kasia, commenting, “How wonderful Kasia, and to receive such acknowledgement from your staff during this most challenging time to be managing a service within the health and social care sector. Well done!”

Congratulations Kasia, it’s clear just how much you mean to the team in Westminster – especially during the pandemic.

Valentine’s fundraising in Monica Court

The Comfort Call team at the Monica Court Extra Care scheme in Eccles have been busy arranging a Valentine’s Day-themed raffle. The team regularly arrange raffles for their resident’s fund – helping to fund activities in the schemes such birthday parties and lunches.

Their regional manager, Joanne Brannen, sent us this creative montage of pictures from the event. The winners definitely look happy with tier prizes!

If you’re arranging a fundraising activity – for service user events or for charity – then let us know. Send the details to communications@candchealthcare.co.uk and we’ll help you spread the word.

Recognition for the London Care team at Ensham House

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen many events cancelled over the last year, including Richmond’s Dignity in Care awards.

Instead, the London borough of Richmond upon Thames has issued certificates of recognition to highlight the outstanding care and support that care teams have been delivering in the most difficult of circumstances.

The hardworking London Care team at Ensham House were amongst those recognised by the council. Commenting that “your dedication and selflessness have been of the highest standard”, Councillor Piers Allen wrote “you are all true dignity in Care heroes”.

Congratulations to everyone at Ensham House on being recognised by the council, and thank you for everything you are doing to support your local community.

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.

Flood warnings issued

Areas across the UK are at risk of flooding over the coming days following Storm Christoph’s arrival this week. Severe warnings are in place around the River Bollin and the River Mersey, with further warnings and alerts in many other areas, particularly in the North and West.

You can check local flood warnings for your part of the UK using these links:

Please stay safe and CCH employees should speak with their manager if be affected.

A big birthday at Custom Care

One of our branch managers, Ellie Cross, sent us some photos this week of a birthday celebration at the Cannock branch of Custom Care. Keen to share some good news, Ellie told us:

“One of our services users Helen turned 103 today! Staff visited with flowers and a cake to try and make her lockdown birthday a little brighter. Helen was over the moon when staff came in with her gifts, clapping her hands thanking them.”

Luckily Helen is still able to see her son, and was even able to visit him for lunch, so has had the best day she could – given the circumstances. Happy birthday Helen!

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

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.

At City & County Healthcare Group, we know that it benefits all of us to talk about mental health and we want to make a positive change towards the mental health in our workplace. To get us started in 2021, let’s use this worthy day, to talk, to listen and change lives within our teams!

Activities for your team

This year’s theme is on the power of small, because however you have a conversation about mental health – whether it’s a quick message to a colleague, a virtual coffee morning, or a socially distanced walk and talk – it has the power to make a big difference.

Please think about making time, either on Thursday 4th February or at some point over the next few weeks, to carry out an activity with your team – complying of course with government guidance and our companies Covid-19 policies.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Walk and talk – If you are able to, organise a socially distanced lunchtime walk and talk to encourage small groups of colleagues to get together outside and have a conversation.
  • Mental Health Quiz – Use the mental health quiz to a start conversation, test staffs mental health knowledge and help people learn something new. You can present the quiz in a virtual meeting and use a poll tool to make it interactive.
  • Mental Health Bingo – Use the interactive bingo card for some fun with your team.
  • Lunch and learn – Run a lunch-and-learn session to talk about mental health – colleagues may want to share their own experiences.
  • Sussed card game – Use the Sussed cards as an icebreaker to spark a one on one conversation, or use them in a meeting as part of a mental health-themed group game. Play in person or virtually.
  • Pledge Board – Ask your team to send us their pledges to change the way we all think and act about mental health in the workplace.

Sensory support for people with dementia

Cath Stobbs, a branch manager at Careline Homecare contacted us this week about a great idea to help support service users with dementia. Whilst at a provider forum with Redcar and Cleveland Council, Cath was introduced to ‘twiddle muffs’ – knitted sleeves which sit on a person’s arm.

The sleeves have pieces added which allow the wearer to twiddle with them – hence the name. With their bright colours and different textures, twiddle muffs can help hold the attention of someone with dementia, particularly helpful if they are anxious or agitated.

Inspired by the idea, one of our field care supervisors, Karen Charlesworth, kindly knitted a twiddle muff for one of the team’s local service users. It made such a big impact that Karen soon had to make a second one for when the original was being washed!

The service user’s husband told us that he is delighted with the way it helped occupy her and that it had definitely helped his wife to be more settled.

If you’d like to know more – and maybe even make one yourself – you can download an NHS guide here, or find instructions on the Golden Carers website.

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.

Thanks to our Extra Care teams in Stoke

One of our Regional Managers, Charlotte Dean, wanted to share two exceptional pieces of feedback received in our Extra Care schemes recently.

Firstly, the Maple West team were sent a lovely compliment from the family of a service user. In the letter, the family wanted to express their gratitude for the care and support provided by Comfort Call care staff to their father following a recent fall:

“We wanted to say, we all very much appreciate everything that you did for Dad after the fall and don’t know what we would do without you. You are truly amazing.

“A big thank you to all the carers who look after Mum and Dad every day and night. Not forgetting the rest of your lovely lot, who care for and keep Maple West safe.”

Just a few miles away, the Willow Barns scheme also received an inspiring letter – this time written by Anne Marie Kelly, the Scheme Manager of the local housing provider. Praising Jacqui Dunn, the scheme’s Care Manager, Anne Marie wrote:

“I just wanted to say that, having been Scheme Manager at Willow Barns since September 2017, I have met some lovely Care Managers and I am sure that they have all done a wonderful job. Jacqui Dunn, however, works tirelessly. She not only performs her own role, she has on numerous occasions gone above and beyond to the point that she has almost lived here at times.

“Jacqui has filled in and done care work when short staffed and she never moans or complains and cracks on with the job. I would love Jacqui to get the recognition that she deserves by sending this compliment.”

It’s always amazing to see how closely our Extra Care teams work in partnership with housing providers – keep up the fantastic work.

Masterful achievement for Sarah Kwofie

Congratulations this week to one of our Regional Directors, Sarah Kwofie, on a remarkable achievement. Sarah has completed her Master’s degree in Public Health with the University of Manchester part time through the year, alongside her role at City & County.

Impressively, Sarah completed eight modules – including Fundamentals of Epidemiology, Health Services Management, UK leadership and Public Health Strategy, Health Economics, Global Health in the 21st Century – as well as a dissertation on The Association of Hearing Loss with Dementia in Older Adults.

Sarah has accomplished this at the same time as being a mum to two young children, having a full time (and very challenging) job, and whilst also leading care delivery during a global pandemic! Impressive work Sarah, your achievement is simply brilliant.

Floral thanks for our Comfort Call staff

Some of our Comfort Call colleagues were recently recognised with flowers and chocolates for their hard work and dedication.

Firstly, the Comfort Call team at Poppy House were sent flowers and Cadbury’s Heroes by Stockport Council for their support during the pandemic. Their manager, Mandy Hall, kindly sent us a photo and wanted to make sure that the team’s achievements were shared to recognise their commitment during a difficult year.

Secondly, Katie Jewell, Regional Manager for Devon and Cornwall, let us know about how one team thanked Nikki Raouna – a new coordinator at our Cheltenham branch. Nikki received flowers and Thornton’s chocolates from one of our care workers, Tudor, on behalf of the Gloucester care team that she schedules for.

Katie said, “This gift was in recognition of how appreciative the team are of Nikki in the short time she has been managing their area. She has been supportive and responsive in managing her team.”

Those gifts are definitely well-deserved – thank you all for your hard work and support.

Recognition from Lancashire County Council

Margaret Macdonald – Regional Manager for the North West – has shared a letter the Guardian Homecare team received from Lancashire County Council. In the letter Tony Pounder, Director of Adult Services for the area, praised our Preston team’s response to winter pressures and crises services in central Lancashire, writing:

“I just want to thank you for your fantastic and quick response in increasing the crisis hours you are supplying for us in Central Lancashire in readiness for winter and pandemic pressures.

“It’s one thing for the council to plan and commit to funding these service expansions. However, it only becomes a reality if you as our local provider can deliver what we need and the fact that you are so far on with this is a tribute to your own commitment, effectiveness and efficiency.

“Most of all this will make a difference to the many vulnerable adults and older people who want to speedily leave hospital or avoid admission at all.”

At a difficult time for everyone involved in delivering care, this type of recognition shoes just how much of a difference we can all make.

Christmas raffle raises cheer

Siobhan Gildea, Care Coordinator at Parkview Grange in Newcastle, contacted us about a festive fundraising activity underway at the Extra Care scheme. One of the Comfort Call team’s senior carers, Michelle McMurray, has partnered with a resident to raise funds for future community activities in the scheme.

Siobhan told us, “For the past month, one of our residents and Michelle have been raising money for a Christmas Raffle. The resident and her sister have made up amazing hampers for prizes donated or bought by care staff, residents and family members.”

“The raffle is due to be drawn on the 8th December and all proceedings go to future activities for our residents at Parkview Grange – as well as a huge end-of-lockdown party once we are in the clear from COVID. So far we have raised over £500.”

Great work everyone, those hampers look fantastic.

Homecare Day 2020 – Wednesday 9th December

The UKHCA has announced that it will be working together with Scottish Care again this year to extend Homecare Day to every corner of the UK. The theme this year will be Care Community and it will provide a fantastic chance to share good news stories and innovations that homecare services are making in the lives of people and their communities, every day – particularly in this most challenging of years.

If you have any stories you would like to share with your colleagues across the Group, please send them to communications@candchealthcare.co.uk.

UKHCA and Scottish Care are also inviting members to share and follow stories on social media using the hashtag #homecareday throughout the event. There will also be a Twitter discussion between 12:00–13:00 on the day, led by Scottish Care and UKHCA with questions centred around Care Community.

On 30th November, City & County Healthcare completed the purchase of Interserve Healthcare from Interserve Group Limited, including their service delivery brands, Advantage Healthcare and Strand Nursing. Interserve Healthcare is a complex care business, providing specialist care for adults and children living with a wide range of conditions in their own home. It also provides a small amount of elderly homecare and agency services.

Based in Telford, Interserve Healthcare manages care packages for customers across England, Scotland and Wales. As well as their CCG-commissioned work, they also deliver a combination of self-funded, insurance-funded and case-managed care services. Interserve Healthcare is well-respected in the market for the quality of its care, with the majority of their services holding a ‘Good’ CQC inspection rating.

Interserve Healthcare fits our strategy to acquire community care businesses to which we can add our financial and technical resources to help their growth. Running alongside our existing complex care brands, ICCM, SCP Complex and Total Community Care, Interserve Healthcare’s services will help build City & County’s position as one of the UK’s leading complex care providers.

LifeWorks – Prize Draw Winners!

A few weeks ago we told you that we were running a registration competition for LifeWorks.

All those employees who had registered to use the LifeWorks service by Friday 13th November were entered into a prize draw. Five registered employees have now been chosen at random – each winning a £100 Love2Shop e-voucher!

The lucky winners have now been contacted and they are:

  • Fislet Kinghorn, Comfort Call South Shields
  • Stephen Lee, HSG Trafford
  • Anthony Radcliffe, Guardian Homecare Burnley
  • Michelle Burns, Constance Care Blantyre
  • Susan Parkinson, Guardian Homecare Preston

Well done to the winners – enjoy spending your voucher!

Praise for Paulette at London Care

Sarah Kwofie, Regional Director – South, contacted us this week with a compliment that the London Care team in Westminster recently received:

“It is my pleasure to write to you after receiving home care from one of your carers for about one month. The carer concerned is Paulette, who has attended here most days.

“I would feel I was lacking in gratitude and appreciation if I did not share with you, her manager, the kindness respect, tactfulness and professional care she has shown me on each of her visits.

“Her manner of fulfilling her allocated care tasks moves me to write this letter to you, her care manager, and to congratulate your organisation on the way London Care has trained Paulette to carry out her care responsibilities. Her good humour is a wonderful, well-balanced quality – evident in the manner she devotes herself to her care tasks.

“So please accept this brief tribute to you and the London Care staff.”

Thank you Paulette for your ever-professional approach to supporting this service user. Sarah also added, “We don’t usually hear about training carers get from the organisation. Well done Kasia and your team.”

Welcome to our new branch managers

A warm welcome to our newest branch managers working across City & County Healthcare Group.

In England, we were recently joined by Lorna Turner in Worksop, Christina Kettle at the HSG branch in Bristol and Lisa O Reilly at HSG in Liverpool. In Scotland, welcome to Matthew Green at Stirling.

We have new Extra Care scheme managers too – Amanda Lowe covering the Salford area and Kali Sheekuli at Linksview in Liverpool.

We look forward to getting to know you all.

Recognition from Care Inspectorate Wales

We were recently contacted by Bill Taplin – our Responsible Individual in Wales – about some brilliant feedback we’d received from Care Inspectorate Wales. Highlighting the work of Jodie Evans and Ffion Evans, two of our managers, the inspector said:

“I would like to let you know how effective both Jodie and Ffion are and have been since I have been inspector to the service.

“I am in regular contact with both managers; they are very efficient in notifying, updating and communicating important information, in particular in regards to safeguarding the people we work with.”

Da iawn chi! Amazing – keep up the great work.

A thank you to Marie at Comfort Call

This week, we received some wonderful feedback from the family of one of our service users in West Yorkshire. They’d gotten in touch with our management team directly to express just how much of an impact one of our care workers, Marie, has on their father:

“I am writing to you today to express my sincere thanks to one of your employees, I believe she works from your Pudsey branch.

“Marie Asquith is one of the regular carers for my Father. He became paralysed at the end of 2017, and following a seven-month stay in hospital returned home.

“He really struggled with the reliability of the carers when he first came home and often they would come late in the morning to get him up, and be early at night to help him into bed, meaning he was often in bed for upward of 15 hours a day.

“Since Comfort Call took over my dad’s care, the care has been practically faultless.

“My dad has built a solid trusting relationship with Marie, and she really goes above and beyond the duties she is required to carry out. I feel very grateful that my dad feels safe and properly looked after, it is real peace of mind not only for him, but myself and my sister.

“I would love for Marie’s efforts and dedication to her patients to be recognised.”

A huge ‘well done’ to Marie, and all of the team at Comfort Call. It’s clear that you’re making a huge difference to the lives of the people we support every day.

Considerate coordination recognised at Sagecare

One of our Regional Managers, Milka Kimani, sent us a heartfelt thank you from a social worker and family of a service user. They particularly wanted to thank Jeannette Nouwimana, a London-based coordinator at Sagecare, for her response and quick thinking after the service user’s dementia deteriorated quickly.

The family wrote:

“We would like to thank you, personally, for your input and support with regards to our mum. With your experience and observations whilst coordinating the night care visit for mum and your input in making a positive decision, our mum is now in safe hands.

“It has been a really worrying and challenging time for me and my sister, and we can now at least have some peace of mind that mum is safe.

“Also we take the opportunity of thanking Sagecare carers for looking after our mum, and we really appreciate the care and love mum received from you all.

“Thanks you once again. Best wishes and stay safe.”

Despite all the challenges, the Sagecare team did an amazing job of keeping the service user safe at all times. Anne, the service user’s social worker added, “I would like to add my heartfelt thanks for keeping her safe and as happy as possible especially over the last few months. It has been much appreciated. I will be forwarding the family’s thanks to our commissioning team as well.”

Marking Remembrance Day at Leaholme

Tracy Asbery and Katy Smith sent us a section of photos showing the work that our London Care team had done to mark Remembrance Day at the Leaholme Extra Care scheme.

Staff decorated the scheme with poppies and served up a selection of red, white and blue-themed treats for the residents.

Appreciation for our team at Willow Barns

Our Comfort Call team at the Willow Barns extra care scheme in Stoke-on-Trent received some great feedback this week. Following a quick response to a night-time incident, the local housing team got in touch to pass on a compliment they’d received from the tenant involved:

“Just to let you know that we had a fantastic compliment from an apartment for last night. A tenant said that her husband fell out of bed and the night staff were there in a flash and were brilliant. She said that not only did they support hubby but they were very supportive with her also.

“So A great big well done from the housing team.”

Well done to everyone involved for the amazing support you delivered to this couple.

Flowers for dedicated Delia

Delia Boonziar, a member of our SCRT team in Wishaw, has been recognised by the Daily Record as a winner of their ‘Say it with Flowers’ award. Nominated by her friend Toni for going above and beyond in her role, Delia has made a huge impact in her local community over the past three years.

Toni says of Delia, “She gives her all to the company. She even came back from her holiday early to help us out. That’s the sort of person she is.

“Anything she can do, she will do it for you. She is a brilliant person, but she doesn’t get the recognition she deserves.”

Congratulations Delia, this award was certainly well-deserved. You can read the full Daily Record article here.

Debt management – four steps to reduce your debt

Getting out of debt isn’t easy and there are no quick fixes. It takes time, commitment and sacrifice, but it’s not complicated – it just takes four steps:

  1. Acknowledge the problem – admit that you have a problem and commit to fixing it.
  2. Stop debt spending – Lock up (or cut up) your credit cards.
  3. Make a spending plan – track your spending for a month.
  4. Pay off your debts – list your debts and chose one to pay off first.

For CCH employees, please take a look at the LifeWorks app or website to read the four-part series Four Steps to Reduce your Debt – where each step is broken down into manageable chunks.

Remember, there is no quick fix to overcoming serious debt problems, but if you stick with the plan, the benefits are well worth the effort.

New contract wins

Good news this week as we heard that Guardian Homecare has been successful in its bid to join the Flexible Purchasing System for Extra Care in Liverpool. Although this does not guarantee any direct award of business, it does put Guardian in the running to bid for Extra Care opportunities in Liverpool as well as Sefton, Knowsley and Wirral (and possibly St Helens).

Well done to the bid team and all those that contributed to putting the submission together.

Coming up: Alcohol Awareness Week – 16th to 22nd November

Next week is Alcohol Awareness Week, run by the charity Alcohol Change UK.

The annual campaign’s aim is to get people thinking and talking about alcohol and its effect on our lives and those around us, and to take actions to change our drinking behaviour for the better.

This year’s theme is Alcohol and Mental Health. In a year of extraordinary change and uncertainty, it offers us a chance to think about ways in which we may sometimes use alcohol to help us cope when we’re feeling low, anxious, stressed or worried. It also offers opportunities to highlight some of the more serious mental health problems that can go hand-in-hand with very heavy drinking.

Key facts:

  • 10.4 million adults are estimated to drink at harmful levels.
  • More than twenty people each day die as a result of the harm caused by alcohol.
  • Alcohol is a causal factor in more than 60 medical conditions including liver disease, high blood pressure, depression and seven types of cancer.
  • Around 1 in 4 people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year and drinking too much too often can increase our risk.

Throughout next week, we will share resources and information regarding the links between alcohol and mental health along with signposting to help and support if you have concerns about your alcohol consumption or that of a loved one.

A new home for Athena Care

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

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

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

Uber Eats and Care Provider Alliance discounts for care workers

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

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

A thank you for Advance Healthcare UK’s angels

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

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

“Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

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

Thank you for sharing Lorraine.

Recognition for social care staff from the NHS in Leeds

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We cannot do this without you.”

Raising spirits in extra care

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

Mental health and money worries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next Week – Debt Management

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