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

Front line workers take the initiative …

Extraordinary times call for extraordinary behaviours. And we’re seeing that, up and down the UK, in the generosity, sacrifices and resourcefulness of our care workers, managers and of the wider community. Care workers are risking their health and giving up family unity and holiday time in order to carry on looking after clients. They are, without fail, “putting the service users first,” says Hannah Marsh, regional manager, Midlands. Their mindset is that “if we get it, we’re young and fit enough to fight it off,” says Hannah. Her message echoes similar stories of bravery from across the country.

Hannah Ford, extra care manager in the Salford area, manages 350 clients across six care schemes – including 25 people with high needs. Without fail, “staff are going above and beyond,” she says, coming in early, staying late, doing additional calls and extra shopping trips out of hours. At Bourke Gardens, in Manchester, two clients with confirmed COVID-19 are in hospital, six are in isolation, and four staff are off. The rest are stepping up, including by helping deliver dozens of meals to Bourke Gardens customers in their rooms, as the restaurant has shut down.

The nationwide shortage of masks and protective equipment is placing additional stress on care workers and managers at precisely the time they are needed the most. “One of our clients had symptoms, but we couldn’t go in, it was awful,” recalls Hannah Ford. The urgent need drove her to join a local managers’ network in Salford to appeal for help. It worked: a local care home offered 100 masks, which Hannah collected and distributed to help make up the shortfall.

In Leith, Scotland regional manager Lynne Hewitt ordered 30 face masks from enterprising local citizen Conal Kelly, who had begun making them from home. “He was giving them away to help local health and social care groups,” she reports. Lynne’s team – like all the others across the nation – need more face masks.  But for now, “it’s enough to keep those care workers who are at-risk out there,” she says. Not a single care worker on Lynne’s team has refused to make a visit because of fear of contagion. “They have a bond” with those they are taking care of, Lynne reports.

There was further fierce community spirit from the Leith gin distillery, which has re-purposed its operations to produce hand-sanitizer. “They are giving the hand-sanitizer out in lovely glass gin bottles, because that is all they have got,” says Lynne. Lynne procured five-for-a-pound small plastic bottles at Pound Land which she fills up for her care workers, telling them to return when they need re-filling.

These enterprising, community-driven production lines are already vital in supporting the most vulnerable, and will continue to be. So will all the extraordinary extra miles that care workers and managers are putting in. “I’m working seven days a week from 6am, and still getting calls at midnight,” says Hannah Ford. She is not alone.

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

Frank Robinson, 92, is a customer of City & County and an avid poet. In saying thank you for the care he’s received, Frank sent us the following; a wonderful tribute to his carers. Thank you, Frank, for your beautiful words.

Thank you, carers

It is time that I say thank you
for what you’ve done for me.
A thousand days of caring;
ten hundred cups of tea.

And with the tea came kindness:
the call when you arrive.
That makes me glad to be here;
and pleased to be alive.

You listen to my stories
the people that I’ve known.
And now you see the ending
– for I am on my own.

And this is not a rare world.
It’s not a ‘dream come true’.
It just needs loving kindness
and that will come from you.

You tend my cuts and bruises
and try to keep me clean.
You bully me with kindness
for that’s what caring means.

You bring back life within me
give purpose to my years.
You help in my endurance,
and will not stand for tears.

You all have understanding
of what life needs to be.
You see it in each person
I know you do with me.

They were hard years that we’ve shared
with joy and misery.
And through it, you’ve all worked
to give life back to me.

Taking More Care

Remember us, your carers
you know we’re always here.
With love and understanding
and always without fear.

The world that we were used to
has vanished without trace.
And omitomi virus
now scares the human race.

We know that you are worried
and you know that we care.
And if you’re really fearful
just call and we’ll be there.

Your shopping is a doddle
we’ll get the things you need.
And you’ll need medication
and newsy stuff to read.

Remember that we care
and we are always here.
We will honour you with love
to take away that fear.

 

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

 

“You need to stop clapping, because we’re clapping for you.” Those were the kind words spoken to care worker Jay as she joined the queue at Waitrose in St. Neots on Friday morning after her shift.  Jay had initially joined in the applause, as she waited to pick up supplies for one of her elderly customers. Then she saw people nodding at her blue uniform and badge. It was she, the star. She and the 13,000 other City & County care workers across the country, going well beyond the call of duty to look after, comfort and support many of the most vulnerable people in our society.

A security guard ushered Jay to the front of the line, to ensure she got what she needed. “I felt like royalty,” said Jay. “It was heart-warming.”

This is just one example of the dozens of stories of kindness, compassion and love that have been pouring in since the coronavirus outbreak began. Care workers and managers up and down the country, who already do so much, are pulling out the stops under very difficult conditions to ensure their service-users’ safety and happiness. And the public is behind them. Care worker Dawn in Bridlington got her own round of applause outside Morrisons – despite her protestations that she was only picking up some bits for herself, reports branch manager Kate Hamilton. Restaurant chains, local pubs and schools across the regions have donated food and supplies to care workers and branches; children in Ayr, Scotland, are writing letters to cheer up those living alone.

In normal times, 93-year old Marjorie celebrates her birthday with family, cake and singing. This year, the care workers, chef and managers at Oak Court sang for her from the garden, below her balcony, on behalf of the care worker community and of Marjorie’s family.

Kim Nicholson looks after six independent living schemes in the Leicester area – including Oak Court. She is also Jay’s manager. “I’ve been in this industry for 33 years, and to now be getting recognition for what we do…it’s overwhelming,” she says.

It is also long overdue, and extraordinarily well-deserved. Staff have cancelled annual leave in order to care; some have even sent their children away in order to continue to work.

“We are already so proud of our City & County care workers,” says Group CEO James Thorburn. “Today, in these far from normal times, we are prouder still. The world out there is hugely grateful for what our care workers are doing. I am convinced that gratitude will endure after the fear and panic subsides.”

 

The names and personal information of those we care for have been altered to protect privacy

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

People that use our services and members of their families are naturally very concerned about the current coronavirus pandemic. We have received many calls and emails on the subject and have updated the following information to offer you and your loved ones reassurance about the things we are doing to keep our vulnerable service users safe.

Firstly, we wanted to tell you that we are monitoring the situation on a daily basis and that we are working with official agencies to both inform and act on the latest scientific and clinical advice.

As an experienced home care provider, we are well versed in putting in place contingency arrangements. We have to do so most years to combat unseasonable weather, transport difficulties etc. and the disruptions this can cause in our staffing levels and inaccessibility to areas badly affected as well as dealing with winter pressures on hospital beds and other care services.

Our main arrangements for preventing transmission of the virus are as follows:

  • Frequent and good handwashing technique by staff, using soap and warm running water. This is singularly the best way to avoid contamination and to prevent the spread of infection. Alcohol gels do not offer as much protection and should therefore only be used in circumstances where water and soap are not available.
  • Further to recent public health advice, all staff delivering personal care are instructed to wear a fluid-repellent surgical facemask.
  • Staff wear disposable gloves and aprons (as they always have done for personal care).

The most important way you can help is by ensuring that the staff who come to visit you have ready access to wash their hands in your home with soap and warm water and clean towels to dry their hands.

Staff will be expected to continue to use gloves, aprons etc. for delivering personal care in the same way as usual.

How might your care be affected?

If we have not done so already, we may need to enact our normal contingency arrangements for care delivery and this means that we may be required to reorganise our available staff from their normal routines to redirect care on a priority needs basis. This means that we may have to;

  • Alter the time of your care so that the most critical medical care services are met first for those without any support networks and who are wholly dependent on the care that we provide.
  • Make a temporary change to your regular care worker.
  • Make arrangements with you to combine some care calls we normally provide to you, depending on your particular circumstances.
  • Contact you, your family or informal carers to make specific arrangements to support us to meet your care needs.
  • Use extra safety equipment and precautions if you should be unfortunate enough to contract the virus.

We are continuing to monitor the situation daily and in any event we will remain in contact with you to keep you informed of any actions that we may need to take. Our primary concern is making sure that your care is delivered safely. We hope that you will understand that where changes are required to maintain safety we will make these decisions with you in mind and in line with the very best advice.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do ring the local office and ask to speak to the manager.

The New Year offers as good a time as any to consider a new role, new challenges and new faces. Perhaps, all within an entirely new sector! For the gregarious and sociable who’ve a want to care and help people in need, too, becoming a care worker offers up that very chance. 

That’s where you, as someone considering care work, may be able to step in and offer support to people at their most vulnerable and in need of it. 

So, what does care work entail?

For the most part, care work involves dealing with a broad range of people, aiding and assisting those who may be elderly, disabled or, perhaps, a bit younger. People of all ages, ethnicities, backgrounds and circumstances will require care at some point in their lives, and part of what makes the job great are the wonderful characters you’ll come across. 

Care work involves a good measure of responsibility and diligence. From help around the house, like cooking light meals and cleaning, to assistance with personal care like bathing, dressing and going to the toilet, care work is varied and sometimes challenging. It requires patience and resolve but it’s ultimately rewarding in the positive impact on people in need. If you’re looking for a change in career that achieves just that, and you’re not afraid of some hard work, this might just be your calling. 

What will you need as a care assistant?

As a care assistant, you’ll need a number of key skills, some of which will be gained on the job through day-to-day experience, while other skills you’ll have already. These include being a strong communicator as well as good at listening with the issues you may face and deal with. You’ll need to be practical and hands-on while not being faint at heart. You will deal with bodily fluids, nudity and mess. Sometimes clients may be even be unwilling participants in their own care so you’ll also need to be able to keep your cool and handle stressful situations in a calm and collected manner. From time to time, they will come up while you’re on the job. 

But it’s not all worrisome. Carers often find they make real friends of the people they’re looking after, finding it that much more satisfying.

What type of care assistant roles are there?

As a care assistant, you will be uniquely placed to improve a person’s life and there are various types of care that City & County delivers across its companies. That may be live-in care where you’re residing on a client’s property, or domiciliary care where you’re making visits to a client’s home, sometimes multiple times a day. If you’re trained for it, a company like ICCM provides Complex Care services, tending to clients with more complicated health concerns.  

Each client will have a bespoke care plan, which you, as a care assistant, will help compile, manage and deliver.

You’ve made your decision to switch to care…where to next?

Well, now you can take a look at our jobs board to see which roles we have in your desired location. Training is included for those who are new to the sector whilst our care assistant enjoy plenty of support at a branch level. 

Good luck and Happy New Year!

Early November saw the purchase of the Human Support Group (HSG), which becomes the latest addition to the City and County family.

HSG is based in the Northwest of England, running thirty-five branches and Extra Care facilities and delivering complex care and reablement contracts alongside general home care.

HSG is an established and respected provider with a successful and experienced management team that shares our commitment to great quality care. We’re sure you’ll all join us in welcoming HSG on board!

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!