Our London Care team helps Rosemary celebrate turning 88

 

Maria Gerardo contacted us this week about a service user who recently celebrated her birthday with our London Care team at the Pullen Centre. Maria, who is a Day Care Coordinator at the centre arranged for two members of the team, Bisi and Tina, to visit Rosemary as she turned 88.

“Rosemary is a very keen knitter and has found this a real saviour in lockdown,” Maria told us, “this has enabled her to use her hands and keep her busy”. Rosemary showed the team some impressive table mats that she’d knitted with wool that Bisi and Tina had given her earlier in the year.

The team wished Rosemary a happy birthday and even took some cake to celebrate. Happy birthday Rosemary.

A thank you to Kent SCP

This week, we received an inspiring thank you letter from the niece of a service user living at the Bowles Lodge Extra Care scheme in Kent:

“I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of my Aunt, my husband and myself to pass on our extreme thanks and praise to your team who operate from Bowles Lodge, Hawkhurst. They are part of Kent SCP, Maidstone and provide a care service for residents at Bowles Lodge where my Aunt resides.

“Ever since my Aunt’s arrival in 2016, they have provided 24 hour care which includes four visits during the day and emergency cover 24 hours a day. In recent years, the care team has been led by Debbie Willett who is the Care Manager at Bowles Lodge.

“Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Debbie and her team have provided a service which in our view exceeded our expectations and as a result, we feel that the care provide under Debbie’s leadership has been commendable and worthy of recognition.”

A well-deserved congratulations to everyone at Bowles Lodge, you’re making a huge difference every day to the people you support.

NHS Help At Home Hub

The coronavirus outbreak means many of us and our families may need to access health and care services from home. You may not be aware that services including ordering repeat prescriptions and contacting a GP are readily available online from the NHS.

To help find available online services, the NHS have launched a Help At Home hub which brings everything together in one place. The hub covers can help you:

  • order repeat prescriptions
  • contact your GP
  • find out about dental treatment
  • manage long-term conditions
  • maintain your mental and physical wellbeing.

Accessing support using a smartphone, computer or tablet in this way can help with social distancing and also reduce the workload on local NHS services.

Intrepid Robin sets sights on Snowdon

An adventurous member of the Nottingham finance team is undertaking a new challenge for charity and would love your support.

https://images.jg-cdn.com/image/b3984f79-adcb-4f43-9569-c718124e1104.jpgLast September, we reported how Robin Newton-Hufton took part in an MMA cage fight in aid of Cancer Research. A year on, she’s pushing herself to new heights to raise money for leukaemia charity Anthony Nolan.

“I shall be doing the third most difficult route up Mount Snowdon in wales,” she told us, “which is roughly a 12.7 kilometre loop trail near Caernarfon.”

Robin hopes to complete the hike in under six hours and has set up a Justgiving page to collect donations, but is also making a call to action to everyone – “I urge people to become donors if they cannot donate”.

Robin’s climb is on 12th September. You can donate and see Robin’s training updates here and you can find out more about Anthony Nolan and their work here.

Your stories from around the UK

There were celebrations in Scotland this week as the branch welcomed its new manager.

Care Coordinator at the Blantyre Branch, Diane Hague, wrote to tell us that Christine McGill had been recently promoted to the position and the branch were not going to miss out on the opportunity for a celebration, as you can see here.

Congratulations from us to Christine on her new role – we’re sure she’ll be a great success!

We also had lovely news from Regional Manager in the Southeast Magda Trepczynska who witnessed what she described as a “really heart-warming moment” at Bowles Lodge Extra Care scheme in Cranbrook, Kent.

“One of the service users came to the office with his little trolley,” says Magda, “and brought a bunch of flowers and a box of chocolates for the manager and the team. He had tears in his eyes and just wanted to say a big ‘thank you’ to the team for all the support he is getting and especially for the fact that that morning the manager herself came and prepared him a bacon sandwich for breakfast.”

Well done to manager Debbie Willett (right) and all the team at Bowles for clearly making a tenant very happy!

Good news also from Help at Home in Leicester where the team received a commendation certificate from Leicestershire County Council for showing a particularly high standard of care to one service user whose package was recently increased.

Regional Manager Charlotte Dean wrote to tell us about the well-deserved recognition – “they are getting so much better here,” she told us. Well done to all at the branch for the continued improvement.

And a final special mention goes to Regional Trainer in the Northwest, Paul Kershaw. We reported back in 2018 that Paul had achieved his Batchelor’s Degree in 2018 and now he has achieved a further landmark by obtaining his PGCert In Leadership and Management through Huddersfield University.

Paul, 51, told us “you’re never too old to learn and I am now onto my next challenge. As a Regional Training Officer, it is important to learn and gain new skills to keep the brain active and it has certainly done that in many ways.”

What an inspiration you are, Paul – congratulations and well done from us all!

MPs debate social care petition

Many of you will have signed the petition that circulated recently calling for social care to be given equal recognition to the NHS – yesterday Parliament debated the matter.

MPs from both sides of the House of Commons debated the petition, which has gathered more than 43,000 signatures, and many positive comments were made about the contribution of social care and care workers in particular during the pandemic.

Care Minister Helen Whately (left) wound up the debate by saying the government would be looking at how it could build a long-term solution for social care so that care workers get the rewards they deserve.

You can watch the full debate here.

 

Tracey’s fundraising bike ride

We never ceased to be surprised to the extra lengths that our wonderful front-line staff will go to in order to make the difference to their service users’ lives.

Tara Penn from ICCM wrote to us to tell us about the amazing effort that one of their PAs has been making to raise funds for an excellent cause.

Tracey Seabury, who has worked for ICCM since 2014, is cycling the equivalent distance of her home to Land’s End to help raise funds for her three-year-old client, a boy with severe epilepsy.

Tracey explains on her JustGiving page that the boy “will be totally dependent on others all his life and so his family need to adapt their home for his special needs.

“We were recently told that we could no longer carry him upstairs so the family are going to need to adapt their home. I am hoping to raise money towards a specialised bath that he will need to help make his life a little easier.”

Tracey has already raised over £7,000 of the £12,000 needed for the specialist equipment. If you’d like to lend your support, you can do so here. Well done, Tracey!

Your stories of kindness

We’ve had more great stories of kindness and gratitude this week from across the group.

Manager at Guardian in Morecambe, Samantha Mozer, got in touch to tell us about a “lovely gesture from a service user’s family”.

When the team began providing care to this particular lady, she had been diagnosed with coronavirus and had also recently lost her husband to the disease. Yet, in spite of the sad and difficult circumstances, care workers Sophie, Lorraine, Danuta and Michelle really rose to the occasion.

To show their gratitude, the family sent a gift package (right) to each of the care workers to say “thank you for being there through a very tough time”.

We were also deeply moved by news from Constance Care in Glenrothes, where manager Dominic Curran received correspondence in praise of the branch’s End of Life team from Dr Jo Bowden, Consultant in Palliative Medicine.

Dr Bowden noted how care workers Mary Hamilton and Kellyann Nicol had quickly “built a great and trusting rapport” with one particular young man on a palliative pathway, and that his mother “had valued their input right from the beginning”. In particular, she noted how the two staff had switched their shifts around in order to be present during her son’s final days of life.

“They supported her son’s comfort and dignity right to the end,” Dr Bowden said, “including giving him a wash, repositioning and emptying his stoma all in his last hours of life. This can’t have been easy.

“We all know how difficult it can be to facilitate continuity of care, but in this case it was achieved and it meant a great deal to the patient and his family. They were having the worst time of their lives with a lot of emotional distress and difficult physical symptoms, but having friendly, caring, sensitive and supportive input from your team made all the difference.”

Jane Jones, manager at Abacare in Powys, Wales, wrote to us recently to tell us how their local Morrisons supermarket made contact with the branch to make a donation of food and drink to their service users.

“As you can see,” wrote Jane, “it was a very generous donation and we are also going to receive another one next Tuesday from Morrisons. We are now busy making up baskets to give out.”

Field supervisor Kelly Butler is pictured here collecting the donation from Morrisons.

 

 

 

 

Loneliness Awareness Week #LetsTalkLoneliness

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

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

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

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

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

More heart-warming stories of kindness

With Mental Health Awareness Week and its ‘kindness’ theme having come and gone, we continue to hear about extraordinary tales of kindness and humanity from across the group.

Sylvia Wisna, manager at SCRT Homecare in Stirling wrote to tell us about something from the “positive side of lockdown”. Care worker Sheena Duncan (right) contacted her local Tesco which donated juice drinks that she then distributed to elderly patients at Forth Valley Hospital in Larbert.

Sylvia said, “Sheena is an amazing caring person who also did knitting of ‘twiddle muffs’ for patients. As a service manager, I can easily say that my staff are truly very dedicated and passionate”.

We agree that everyone across the group will appreciate what Sylvia calls Sheena’s “gold heart”.

And there was more compassion in evidence at Guardian Homecare in Preston. Manager Ross McCrann wrote to share “a little heartfelt thank you to one of our care staff Maxine Johnson”.

When service user and dog lover Mrs Wylie sadly died, Maxine knew exactly how to commemorate her. “Maxine, very thoughtfully got a flower arrangement made for Mrs Wylie’s funeral – in the shape of a dog!” (left), writes Ross.

“It’s humbling to have such thoughtful care staff on our team, and what a lovely way to send off Mrs Wylie – the arrangement would have made her smile.” We’re sure it would, Ross, and we share your appreciation of a gesture that must have meant a lot to the family.

Another inspiring tale came from Maria Gerardo, who, in normal times, works with the clients at the Pullen Day Centre in London. Unfortunately, the wonderful resource has been closed since the coronavirus pandemic took hold, leaving clients isolated at home.

As we have reported previously here, students from Westminster School often volunteer to attend Pullen, but the temporary closure of the centre hasn’t stopped them maintaining contact.

Says Maria, “this week I have arranged with their teacher for the students to write to all our clients that are at home. They have been writing letters and finding appropriate poems and pictures for our clients and so far the response has been really positive and our clients are so grateful to have some contact with them.”

 

 

 

 

Student volunteer Andrew wrote to one client, John, and included a poem by American novelist and poet Rachel Field. In his letter to John, he said that the poem was “about travelling or journeying to new places and remembering them after you have left – I thought you might like it!”. We’ve reproduced it here:

If Once You Have Slept on An Island

If once you have slept on an island
You’ll never be quite the same;
You may look as you looked the day before
And go by the same old name.

You may bustle about in street and shop
You may sit at home and sew,
But you’ll see blue water and wheeling gulls
Wherever your feet may go.

You may chat with the neighbours of this and that
And close to your fire keep,
But you’ll hear ship whistle and lighthouse bell
And tides beat through your sleep.

Oh! you won’t know why and you can’t say how
Such a change upon you came,
But once you have slept on an island,
You’ll never be quite the same.

Andrew was delighted to receive a reply from John reminiscing about his own travels as a younger man. “I do remember sleeping on the beach on Hydra in the Mediterranean, but we got bitten by mosquitoes. My daughter says we will get bitten here too later in the summer. Thank you for the poem. I look forward to receiving more, if you have time.”

To see such a lovely inter-generational relationship blossom really cheered us up in these difficult times – we hope it cheered you up too. And well done to Maria for thinking creatively to bring some light during days that have been somewhat dark of late.

As we reach the third month of lockdown, it is becoming clear that many of the challenges we have faced since March will be with us for some time. Alongside the sustained loss of things we enjoy – holidays, meals out with friends, trips to the cinema or to sporting events – many of us are also suffering from loneliness, isolation, and nervousness about income and job security. As we emerge from this health crisis into a period of social and economic uncertainty, we have a greater sense of our own fragility. The pandemic will have an enduring impact on us all.

There are no magical cures. But we have defences. What has always struck me as so special about our business is the difference we make to people’s lives – pandemic or no pandemic. What drives me are the recollections of seeing the smile on the face of someone we care for as their care assistant comes in through the door. Or that grateful look at the end of a call – that brief pat on the arm or lingering clasp of hands. Kindness is our business and we have the kindest workforce in the world. I write letters regularly to thank care assistants and branch teams for being remarkable – for showing deeply humbling levels of dedication, care and skill. One care assistant has voluntarily gone into 12 weeks of isolation, losing physical contact with her young kids to protect those she cares for, and taking on end-of-life care on her days off to minimise the risk of cross-infection. She is not alone. For me all this is deeply impactful. For many at the frontline it is just what they do. I only wish I could better convey how special they are.

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” Mother Teresa’s words resonate even more now. Our business is an unending flow of acts and words of kindness across 50,000 hours of care a day. This pandemic has stolen away many important things from our normal lives, leaving us feeling hollow. But that hollow makes the echoes of kindness louder, and more meaningful. With our acts of kindness, we not only help those whose needs are greatest, but we also fight back. Just maybe we can emerge from this period as a better, kinder and more appreciative society.

Meanwhile, amidst the echoes, please hear my own “thank you,” spoken in awe and admiration.

 

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

Caring for the care workers

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.