Care Heroes spotlight – Specialist Care Worker of the Year 2022 – Ben Kelly

This week, we are shining a spotlight on Ben Kelly – winner of the ‘Specialist Care Worker of the Year Award’ at City & County’s Care Heroes Awards 2022.

Ben has worked in care for 14 years and has been with his current client for the past eight, offering 24-hour support to him three days a week.

Branch manager, Jackie McCormack, at Guardian Homecare Blackpool, nominated Ben for the award due to his commitment, professionalism, and resilience.  Jackie said, “The client can be aggressive and very demanding, we only have a small cohort of staff who will go into this location, but Ben’s commitment and patience has kept his service user in his home and inspired his entire team.”  This client’s aggressiveness goes beyond what is manageable to most. But there is one person the client can always count on to show up day in and day out: Ben.

At one point, the council was pushing to put the client into a secure facility, but Ben pushed back. He has figured out what can keep his client calm, he knows how to manage his personality shifts. Ben deals with his client’s physical and mentally challenging behaviour daily – so we sat down with Ben to uncover the secret to his unflappable dedication. (Ben is pictured below, with HR Director Judith Lyons, at the Care Heroes Awards ceremony).

It sounds like there are some very hard days. How do you stay motivated?

I don’t take anything personally. If he gets aggressive or insulting; I know he doesn’t mean it. He does it with everyone. I see past his actions and focus on the fact that he is struggling and needs my help.

What is the biggest challenge of working with this client?

The unpredictability is definitely the hardest part. I never know who I am going to get. It is a challenge trying the empathise and be patient with all his personalities, which change throughout the day. I must always stay on my toes.

I care about my client, and I couldn’t accept the idea of him being locked up. I know at his home, with my support, he can have a much better quality of life. We go on outings, cook together, chat and have the freedom to explore. He has a car that was fitted for him that he drives us around in and he loves that.

What brought you into care?

My family. My sisters are support workers. They are nurses. My mum is a registered manager in care. My mum used to do respite with clients with Learning Disabilities. They would come to our house, and I would interact with them. It came naturally to me.

What do you like about your job?

It doesn’t feel like a job.  I like helping clients who are unable to help themselves. If my client didn’t have a staff member, his life would be much worse. I like being able to give people better lives.

Do you feel supported by your team?

I have an incredible team. The Blackpool branch manager and team leaders go above and beyond to make sure I am ok and have the support I need. They are always at the end of the phone, and they are happy to step in, roll up their sleeves and help if I need it. I couldn’t have lasted without them. I know that I am never alone.

This week many in the Jewish community are observing Yom Kippur – the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.

Yom Kippur marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year and is a time for reflecting on the past year.

Yom Kippur began on the evening of Tuesday 4 October, 2022 and ends tonight Wednesday 5 October.

It is marked with fasting, prayer, and the breaking of the fast with a family meal.

We wish you all you well at this special time of Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur

Meet the team. The SCP Complex Care team, that is.

Every day, our nurses, branch managers and care coordinators do amazing work in their communities, helping SCP’s clients in delivering much-needed complex care.

Find out more about the team…


“Hello everybody,

I wanted to take the opportunity this Professional Care Workers’ Week, to reach out to you all. There are well over one million care workers working in the UK. Professional Care Workers’ Week aims to celebrate their work and I wanted to add my thanks and recognition to the 15,000 or so of those of you who work for City & County Healthcare Group.

Professional Care Workers Week is organised by a charity who some of you may have heard of – the Care Workers’ Charity, and they provide financial and professional support to care workers.

We had our own celebration of our amazing teams through our Care Heroes Awards ceremony, which happened in Birmingham just before the summer break. I hope you will have seen some of the publicity on the event and the winners – it was amazing. Such brilliant stories of individual care workers and care teams going above and beyond and working to drive such heart-warming outcomes for those they care for. I felt so inspired, humbled and proud to work in the same company as everyone there – congratulations to all the finalists and winners and please make sure you get your nominations in for next year, we’ve already booked the event…I hope to see you there.

After the event, I also stopped by to visit one of the winners – our help at home service at Waterside Court in Loughborough; they won Service of the Year award. Wherever possible, I go out on calls and this time, I met with one of the care workers – Kevin – and went around with him. I also met residents and a few of the teams from neighbouring schemes in the area; what a wonderful day and what a happy bustling scheme it was!

I also heard from colleagues and staff how they have turned around the scheme’s performance, especially after the challenges coming out of COVID – the result? Well, quite a few times I heard from residents a repetitive phrase: “It’s like a five-star hotel here”. Just another example of the difference our teams and our care workers make.

Please all of you, keep up the amazing work you do. It’s so important and thank you.”


Impressing the inspectors at Jackson Gardens

Richard Wheatley, Regional Manager – North West, has asked us to share a special ‘well done’ to Michele Johnson and her team at Jackson Gardens for their amazing achievement on receiving their overall good rating with their first CQC Inspection.

Richard told us, “It was a pleasure to read such amazing comments about the care that is delivered by the onsite team and how the scheme is managed. Michele is newly in post at Jackson Garden and has made such a difference is a short space of time”.

Some comments from the report included “Kind and Caring”, “Marvellous” and “Out of this World”.

Richard added that “it has been a pleasure to get this feedback from service users and care staff. And it is amazing to see such a warm culture at Jackson Gardens. Well done Michele and team, your hard work and dedication does not go unnoticed.”

Becci’s going the extra length for breast cancer

Hazel Richardson, one of our Complex Community Nurses has shared a story highlighting her colleague Becci’s charity swim to raise money following her sister’s cancer diagnosis in December 2021.

Becci’s sister, Toni a young Mum with two children, was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer late last year. TNBC is a type of Breast cancer whose cells don’t have hormone or Her2 receptors, and accounts for 15-20% of Breast Cancer diagnoses, and is more common in women under 40. Toni is part way through her treatment plan, including 11 chemo cycles and an operation. She has rung the bell on Chemo and is awaiting Radiotherapy next month. Becci told us “She has fought it like champ and as a family we are so very proud of her for not only fighting this disease but for also doing it as a single mother and not letting her treatments affect the children”.

Toni’s determination and strength has inspired Becci to take on her own challenge to complete a 10 mile swim to raise money to support all other warriors, but mainly for her sister. To complete this challenge Becci needs to swim 895 lengths of her local 18 metre pool, and has under 200 lengths to go with three swims planned for the remainder of this week and is on target to complete it! Becci said “I’ve swam at every opportunity I can, around shifts and my children”.

Hazel commented “Becci works full time on one of my ICCM packages in Cheshire and is a great asset to her team – to see her completing this outside of work and with her own family to care for is amazing and warrants sharing. Hopefully our colleagues will donate to this worthy cause and congratulate one of our hard-working team members for completing such challenge.”

You can find out more about Becci’s challenge and make a donation on her Facebook Fundraisers page.

The Advantage Healthcare team excels in Cardiff

Congratulations to Theresa Giles, our Advantage Healthcare Branch Manager in Cardiff on her successful CIW Registration! Theresa joined Advantage Healthcare in August 2020 as a Client Manager, and progressed to Branch Manager in September 2021 when Leanne Henderson, the previous Branch Manager, took a new role in the Governance Team for the Complex Care division.

Rachel Davy, Head of Operations who shared the news, said “Congratulations Theresa, this wasn’t an easy journey but your passion, commitment and hard work paid off. Well done and keep believing in your ability to be the best!”

This comes on the back of another significant achievement for the branch regarding a young man with a family who had suffered a spinal stroke in 2020. The Cardiff team were first approached in November 2020 to support this client and after a very challenging and carefully phased discharge he was finally fully discharged last week! This package required a very large team of 10+ staff presenting several recruitment challenges in an already tough market and was significantly disrupted by the ongoing and changing COVID 19 restrictions and continuing lockdowns.

The team worked closely with the multi-disciplinary team meeting – a regular meeting that takes place between health care professionals to discuss the client’s case – including consultants and ward staff. Theresa, Nurse Andrew Pettey and Care Service Manger Vera recommended trialling a phased discharge strategy, enabling us to build the right team around the package and prioritising safety. It worked! That strategy has exceeded all expectations and is a model which has impressed the lead consultants who are considering rolling it out on a large scale for their future complex care patients.

Today Theresa’s client is home with his three children and partner Sam, after three long years in hospital.

Vera Robinson the lead Care Service Manager leading on the mobilisation wrote “This couldn’t have been achieved without the hard work of the previous manager Leanne Henderson and Theresa, who transitioned into her new role as Branch Manager whilst maintaining the ever changing rota and the challenges this care package brought. Thank you Theresa and Andrew for those long hours spent on recruiting and keeping engaged the current staff who are all now part of a large and successful team that have brought this client home to his family. The challenges have been from every side, and you have done a fantastic job!”


Christmas commitment from our complex care teams

Steph Mohan from our complex care division has asked us to share her appreciation for all of the dedicated staff who helped keep our clients safe and well over the festive period. Steph has shared some amazing photos of what some of the teams got up to over recent weeks:

ICCM’s Nicola Tuffs, Amy Vickers, Rebecca Taylor, Angela McGann, Emma Morton Evans and Sue Griffiths all helped to create this wonderful window display for their client to enjoy over the Christmas period!

Advantage Healthcare’s Kelly Buxton spent Boxing Day and New Year with her client and is a real credit to the team. Steph tells us that Kelly always goes above and beyond, as you can see from the photo they have a really special bond.

Carol Henson kept on top of on-call support over the Christmas break (wearing a selection of fabulous jumpers we hope).

Kate Finzi and Siobhan Shingler took care of recruitment and HR – and are looking particularly merry here.

Finally, Steph has let us know about an Advantage Healthcare client who was released to us as a palliative several months ago. Thanks to the dedication of her team, she is showing significant improvements to her health and is now on a transplant list. With the support of the healthcare assistants and her commissioner, the client and her family were able to take her two small boys to Legoland before Christmas.

The client’s commissioner funded a second carer to support on the day, as well as transport provided by Papworth. It just goes to show how – by all working together – we can create happier memories for her two little boys. Steph wanted to give a special thanks to Fiona Fairclough and the care team for making a real difference for this family.

Thank you all for your commitment and work to keep the business, our clients and their families supported over the holidays.

Appreciation for Nadine at Noble Live-In Care

After celebrating her first year of working with the Noble team, Natasha Taupin wanted to her share appreciation for her dedicated colleagues. In particular, Natasha wanted to make sure that her manager, Nadine Bowman, go the recognition for the support and encouragement she gives to the staff – whatever challenges they come across.

Natasha told us, “I would like to thank Noble Live-In Care for giving me the chance to be able to work as a carer and to do my best in a job that I enjoy doing. It’s only been a year, but seems forever.

“I would like to thank Nadine Bowman who has been and still is a wonderful Care Manager. Nadine has directed me how to safeguard myself and is always there to back me up and in some ways to push me the extra mile – whether it’s with the tablet, the supervisions and even the way of thinking for the clients.”

Finishing off, Natasha wished all of her colleagues a “Happy New year 2022 hoping all the very best”. Thank you for sharing, it’s amazing to hear just how much support you’re getting from the team at Noble. We’re looking forward to another year of working with you too Natasha.

Care Quality Commission re-prioritises activity in England

The CQC has reviewed its regulatory priorities in England in light of the current Omicron surge. They recently announced that over this winter they are focusing on:

  • Completing 1000 infection prevention and control (IPC) inspections in adult social care, and respond rapidly to requests to set up new Designated Settings; and
  • beginning a programme of activity to rate adult social care services that are registered and not yet rated and to inspect providers currently rated as Requires Improvement, to identify where improvement has taken place and re-rate where possible.

You can read the full details here.

The CQC is also seeking feedback on how they have regulated over the past three months, to help inform their priorities over the coming months. You can take the survey here.

Are you ready for Blue Monday?

January’s third Monday, “Blue Monday” is thought to be the most depressing day of the year.

Did you know…

  • It’s a myth – there are no scientific studies to say that Blue Monday is actually Blue Monday.
  • It was a PR Stunt dreamed up to sell holidays, based loosely on the idea we might be feeling down because of the dark mornings, the weathers cold, we’re back at work after Christmas, not to mention the debt from Christmas and failed New Year’s resolutions!

Don’t feel blue next Monday, remember:

  • We all have good and bad days – everybody’s situation is different.
  • It’s actually a good opportunity to check in on our mental health – reflect on your mental wellbeing and continue to do it all-year round.
  • Talk things through with other people – talking about our feelings is really useful for protecting our mental health.  Sometimes, a problem shared can be a problem halved.
  • Try and keep active, eat well and drink sensibly – ask for help if your struggling.

If you are feeling anxious, low or experiencing any other symptoms of mental health problems, please seek help.

  • Our Employee Assistance Programme with LifeWorks, offers both online resources to help improve mental and physical wellbeing, as well as a 24/7 assistance helpline, where employees can talk to trained counsellors. If you are struggling call the free confidential helpline on 0800 1691920.
  • To speak with someone immediately, contact NHS 111 on 111 or contact Samaritans on 116 123.

Recognition for the Constance Care team in Blantyre

Sadly, a reality of our work is supporting people at the very end of their lives. However, it’s often the case that the care and attention our teams give to families at this difficult time is the most impactful.

This was very much the case for the Hebenton family, who have gone out of their way to recognise the commitment and loving attention that the team in Blantyre gave their mum in her final years.

On behalf of the them, we’d like to send a huge thanks to the fabulous team of staff at Constance Care who made such a difference for this family, as well as their dedicated branch manager, Christine McGill.

Let’s Talk About Physical Health: Eating healthily

This week we are looking at the importance of eating well. There is no question that the food we eat affects how we feel.

You don’t have to follow a strict diet, but it is important to follow a healthy eating plan. A nutritious, well-balanced diet gives you energy, protects against disease, and helps you to maintain a healthy weight.

National Obesity Awareness Week –  10-16th January 2022

This week its National Obesity Awareness Week. The annual campaign was set up to draw attention to the issue of obesity and encourage people to keep active and eat a healthy diet to avoid becoming obese.

It’s estimated that obesity affects around 1 in every 4 adults in the UK and around 1 in every 5 children aged 10 to 11.

Treating obesity

The best way to treat obesity is to eat a healthy reduced-calorie diet and exercise regularly. It’s recommended we take up activities such as fast walking, jogging, or swimming  for 150 to 300 minutes (2.5 to 5 hours) a week.

Looking to lose weight and get more active? 

  • Download the free NHS Weight Loss Plan to start healthier eating habits, become more active, and start losing weight. The plan helps to set weight loss goals, plan healthy meals and record activities and progress.
  • For CCH employees, you can also visit LifeWorks here to read the full article Talking Care of Yourself: Commit to eating healthily for tips on ways to improve your diet.


A fantastic festive round-up


Happy New Year everyone. It was a busy festive period for our teams across the UK, but so many of you still found time to get into the Christmas spirit. Whether it was to recognise the hard work and dedication of staff or to help our service users get involved with the celebrations, thank you to everyone who shared your activities with us over the last few weeks. Here’s just a small selection of what was happening across the City & County family.

Firstly, Danni Russell has asked us like to say a massive ‘thank you’ to Amanda Brown. Danni tells us that Amanda has been part of the Berwick team for nine years and is loved by all of her service users and colleagues. In Amanda’s spare time, she has devised a small craft page on Facebook where she makes gifts to order. Every year Amanda’s service users receive a small gift from her, and this year she has excelled herself crafting these truly heartfelt gifts and handmade Christmas cards for all of her service users.


Danni finished by saying, “Amanda, these are absolutely beautiful and you have made some of our service users extremely happy this Christmas”. We couldn’t agree more – thank you Amanda.

Meanwhile, Chris Noble has let us know about a fantastic festive initiative by the HSG team in the North East. Each year Middlesbrough’s HSG office staff put together two hampers, one for staff and one for service users. After all of the names are put in to a raffle, two lucky winners are drawn.

Congratulations to Serena Westwood who won the staff hamper

Well done to the Bradshaw family who took home the service users’ hamper

Such a fantastic idea Chris, we hope you all enjoyed your treats. And, that’s not all from the amazing HSG team in Middlesbrough! The staff also donated items to their local food bank – and they definitely looked the part when they delivered the donations too.

Finally, Joanne Brannan shared this terrific collage from the Careline Homecare team in Tameside. Two of their care workers, Shelley Townsend and Seemab Ali, took time to visit service users and deliver Christmas presents in full costume.

Joanne told us that the service users were delighted with the visit from the care workers. We’re really not surprised that they loved the visits – Shelley and Seemab look fabulous, and thanks for sending in the ‘elfie pictures too Joanne!

Let’s Talk About… physical health 

As part of our Let’s Talk About Wellbeing campaign, we’ll be tackling a wide range of wellbeing topics across the year.

Our next quarterly theme, which will run through January, February and March, is Physical Health and Wellbeing.

Physical Health

When experts refer to physical wellbeing, they look at things like whether you feel healthy and full of energy. Taking care of your physical health is good not only for your body, but also for your work, life, relationships, and emotional wellbeing.

From diet to exercise to sleep, over the next three months we’ll be providing tips and strategies to help make taking care of ourselves, a priority every day.

You tell us what matters

We are building an approach to wellbeing that works for you. To do this, we want to hear from you to help shape the campaign over the coming months. Email us at to tell us what matters to you, what concerns you have and any tips you’ve discovered which you would like to share.

Walk your Dog Month – January

Did you know that almost 12% of the dogs owned in the UK are overweight?

Walking is amazing for humans and dogs, both physically and mentally. Why not kick off the New Year with a fun challenge this January, try the following:

  • Change your dog walking route – change the route to create more excitement
  • Walk your dog with style – treat your dog to a brightly coloured lead or collar
  • Teach your dog some new tricks – spend time together and burn off some energy

Don’t forget to send us photos of you walking your dog this January to

Sharing successes at Advantage Healthcare

Steph Mohan, Service Development Director in our complex care division, has shared a story which reinforces that no matter how tough it can be at times, our staff make a real difference where it matters. Catherine Wilkins and Fiona Fairclough at Advantage Healthcare pulled out all the stops to make a client’s final days as good as they could be – but the result was better than anyone could have expected.

Catherine shared the news, saying, “I received a referral from a local hospice who have been supporting a young mum of two boys whilst she has been in Papworth. They informed us that this lady is complex palliative and wanted to spend the last few weeks at home with her children, we were asked if we could turn this around in three days.

“After many calls, encouraging, prompting and cajoling we managed to put a team together 24/7 and found clinical staff to produce the documentation required. A huge effort has been made by many professionals from the primary, secondary and community sectors along with our staff to make this happen.

“Most important of all, our carer was there waiting to take on the huge responsibility of looking after Juliet, something that a whole army of hospital teams have been doing up until now.

“Seven weeks on and we have been informed by Papworth Hospital that they haven’t seen Juliet look so well and we must be providing great care. Juliet is now being put on a lung transplant register, this is the best news and shows there are miracles.”

Steph told us, “This news, coupled with Sally Wheeler, Caroline McPherson and Christine Brooks reaching the Great British Care Award finalists and Leanne Henderson’s mock inspection result of ‘outstanding’ in the Wales branch – the first in Advantage Healthcare’s history of mock inspections – has really made me proud of what we are achieving in a challenging period of change, on every level! Well done all.”

Well-said Steph, it sounds like the whole Advantage Healthcare team is making a real difference to the lives of everyone they support.

The Dunes team remembers Sara Benvin

Sandra Walker has shared with us the details of a moving remembrance service held by the team at The Dunes Extra Care scheme in Redcar for their manager, Sara Benvin. A long-time and very much respected member of the Comfort Call family, Sara had been with the business for more than 15 years.

After starting as a care worker in Hartlepool, Sara progressed to being a registered manager for domiciliary care before joining the Redcar Extra Care schemes in 2016. Sadly, Sara passed away suddenly earlier this month whist still an active member of the Comfort Call team.

In celebration of Sara’s life, the team held a small service this week in the gardens of the scheme, attended by staff, service users and their families. Even colleagues that Sara had worked with previously – during her employment with Comfort Call and Careline Homecare – made time to join and remember the part Sara played in their lives.

The order of service started with a song and a reading, and all who attended where given a yellow rose to lay on a bench dedicated to Sara’s memory in the scheme’s garden. In sharing memories of Sara’s impact on her colleagues and service users during the service, Amanda Stirling said, “Sara really could light up a room with her smile and her laugh was infectious.”

Amanda continued, “The one thing that always stands out about Sara is she made time for everyone. No matter what she was doing, she was always prepared to talk if that’s what was needed or to just listen. Sara loved working in the care sector, it was never a job for her it was a vocation. She has touched the lives of so many that it’s fair to say she made a difference and will continue to make a difference through us her friends and colleagues.”

We couldn’t have put it any better Amanda, it’s clear just how much of an impression Sara left on everyone she worked with.

Spook-tacular decorations at Aspen Gardens

Sandra Walker, Regional Manager at Comfort call shared some pictures of some amazing Halloween decorations at Aspen Gardens. Service users at the scheme took time to make some creepy crafts ready for the 31st.

We think they look frightfully good, well done everyone.

Big birthdays across the City & County family

Firstly, Vicky Judge, Registered Manager at Advantage Healthcare in the North West shared a picture this week of a perfect party. Their client Daniel had a birthday party last week, with all of the care staff did a collection for the fantastic birthday cake.

The team even made food in branch to make sure the celebration was a complete success. Great work everyone – Daniel certainly looks like he enjoyed the effort everybody put in.

Lisa Spencer, Care Coordinator at Poppy House in Ashton-under-Lyne has also asked us to share the branch’s best wishes for Jean Appleton – one of their senior carers – who turns 60 this week.

Lisa told us, “I thought Jean deserves a mention as she does lot for our community group and occasionally even travels to different branches in a supporting role. We decorated our office for her and presented her big bottle of vodka as well as Pandora bracelet.”

Happy birthday Jean, it looks like you had a fantastic day.

Supreme service from Sally Smith

Marie Parrish and the team at Advantage Healthcare in Peterborough wanted to share their appreciation for their considerate colleague Sally, who is marking eleven years with the business this week. 

Marie told us, “Sally, we know you have worked hard for this accomplishment and we truly appreciate your dedication. She has seem the business change many times, and she has always stayed loyal to us and her clients.”

“Sally is always offering to help when is available. She has been working with one of our clients for over seven years and the relationship between them is amazing. We would like Sally to know we are so proud to have her as part of our work family. We hope that you keep up the good work for many years to come.”

We couldn’t agree more Marie. Thank you for everything you’ve done – and continue to do – for your colleagues and clients over the years Sally!

Stoptober – It’s never too late to quit smoking

If you have been smoking for a long time, you may wonder whether it’s worth trying to stop after so many years. The fact is, it’s never too late to enjoy the health benefits of stopping.

What happens when you quit?

The sooner you quit, the sooner you’ll notice the changes to your body and health. Look at what happens when you quit for good.

After 8 hours Your oxygen levels are recovering, and the harmful carbon monoxide levels in your blood with have reduced by half.
After 48 hours All carbon monoxide is flushed out. Your lungs are clearing out mucus and your senses of taste and smell are improving.
After 72 hours If you notice that breathing feels easier, it’s because your bronchial tubes have started to relax. Also your energy levels will be increasing.
After 2 to 12 weeks Blood will be pumping through to your heart and muscles much better because your circulation will have improved.
After 3 to 9 months Any coughs, wheezing or breathing problems will be improving as your lung function increases by up to 10%.
After 1 year Great news! Your risk of heart attack will have halved compared with a smoker’s.
After 10 years More great news! Your risk of death from lung cancer will have halved compared with a smoker’s.


If you haven’t stopped smoking yet, there is still time!

Why not join the thousands of people stopping smoking this October.

The key to success if to never give up trying.

Support to get started…

  • NHS Smokefree – offers free support in the form of an app, personal quit plan, email support, telephone helpline support and Facebook support group.
  • British Lung Foundation – the website offers information about the health effects of tobacco use and programmes to help people quit.
  • Don’t forget to visit LifeWorks, our employee assistance programme for online resources to help you stop smoking.

Meet the Complete Care Amegreen team today

If you’re at the British Association of Brain Injury & Complex Case Management conference in Birmingham today, then why not make your way to stand 26 and say hello to Jody Tierney and Lisa Ruffell from Complete Care Amegreen?

Jody recently joined the team as a Care Service Manager responsible for on-boarding new business, and together with head nurse Lisa, is already at her first event flying the Complete Care Amegreen flag.

Not only are Jody and Lisa excited to be at BABICM’s 25th Anniversary today seeing everyone face to face after so long, but by paying them a visit you could also be in with the chance of winning a bottle of fizz!

Wonderful words in Westminster

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

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

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

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

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

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

Applauding the team at Abbotswood

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

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

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

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

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

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

Latest contract wins

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

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

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

A huge ‘well done’ to everyone involved.

Our teams get involved in Dementia Action week

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

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

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

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

Changes at City & County

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

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

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

Appreciating an assist at Amblecote Gardens

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kent County Council share a story from Bowles Lodge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time for tea in Wigan

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

Wigan care

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


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


Bringing back memories at Westbourne Park Day Centre

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

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

Please contact Joanna at if you have anything to donate.

Care Heroes Awards:

Care Team Award

Over the next few weeks, we’re very proud to be sharing details on our incredible Care Heroes finalists and winners. First-up – a new award for this year – the Care Team Award. This award is for any team of front-line care or support workers that has delivered excellent care outcomes through effective teamwork.

Winner: Stevie Baines, Jacob Wilderspin and Richard Brazier – ICCM

The coronavirus pandemic has had a huge effect on our lives. But, for some of our most vulnerable clients, contracting COVID-19 is a life or death situation. For one particular ICCM client, their family had no option but to hide him away from the public and even his care team as a precaution. After two weeks of isolation, and following constant contact from ICCM, this is where Stevie, Jacob and Richard stepped in.

Without hesitation, these three heroes immediately agreed that they would occupy the family’s extra bedroom and live on-site for two weeks at a time. In an uncertain time, and when the nation was panicking, these brave support workers left their families and their own beds at home to live at the client’s home to keep him safe. They even avoided mingling with outers outside of their agreed time with the client to reduce the risk of catching COVID-19.

Our judges told us, “The dedication to move away from your friends, family at home to support your service user and their family is exceptional. Especially to then be locked down at your place of work, without your own creature comforts – that is more than commendable.”

Congratulations Stevie, Jacob and Richard, you truly are Care Heroes.

Congratulations to our finalists

A huge well done also to both of our other finalists this year; the Caterham and Warlingham team at Surrey SCP, and Joanne Schofield and Rene Gapaul at HomeLife Carers in Plymouth.

At Surrey SCP, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, this team stepped-up and displayed amazing team work. As well as coordinating shopping trips for every single service user and their families, the team helped to create a mini food bank – including donating their own food, time and money to help others. Even the local CCG commented on just how wonderful they are.

Joanne and Rene at Homelife Carers have made a huge difference to the life of one particular service user, who was struggling with obesity and a significant skin condition. The service user was facing a move into hospital – his worst nightmare – so, Joanne and Renee undertook wound-dressing training in a successful bid to keep this him in his home. He told us, “Without these two I don’t know where I would be, they are the A-Team. If I had my way they would never leave.”

Our judges had huge difficulty in choosing a winner for this category, stating that, “This was a really tough one to decide on. All three are really worthy and shining examples of thoughtful and selfless care.”

Your views on flu

Public Health England (PHE) recently ran a campaign to encourage care workers in England to get vaccinated against the flu. You can let them know how effective the campaign was to help them improve their communications for next year.

Click here to take their short survey by 5pm on 26th March.

Brilliant Betty marks a big birthday

Joe Jenkins, Branch Manager for Abacare in Ystradgynlais shared photos this week of their service user, Betty. A client of Abacare for the past five years, Betty celebrated turning an impressive 100 this month.


Joe told us, “Betty is a very independent lady and needs minimum support from us”.

Well, it appears that you can still run rings around most of us Betty! Happy birthday and many happy returns.

Saying ‘thank you’ to staff at HSG South Tyneside

Catherine Richardson, our North East Regional Manager, let us know this week about a lovely ‘thank you’ idea at the HSG branch in South Tyneside. A card, memo and keyring has been sent to all of the care workers from the office team to show just how much they are all appreciated.

The branch manager, Claire Gamble, saw the idea in one of our recent emails when Emma Cooper had made similar gifts to thank the team in Cumbria. Claire thought this was a lovely idea and wanted to also show the HSG team her thanks on behalf of the office.

Claire said, “It is only a small token of our appreciation for everything that they have done. It is always nice to know you are appreciated and each and every one of them are.”

What a great way to recognise and show appreciation the team’s hard work Claire. If you’re team has found a unique way to say thanks to our staff recently, then let us know at

Selina’s striding for Sands – the neonatal charity


Selina Nelson, a member of our care team in West Lothian, is tackling a charity challenge for the neo natal charity, Sands. Aiming to jog 50 miles during the month of March, Selina only has 15 miles left to run.


So far, Selina has raised more than £200 to provide emotional support and practical help to anyone affected by the death of a baby. Her colleagues tell us that Selina is very popular with both with other members of the care team and her service users – but she has been very modest about this achievement.


Would you be able to help Selina in supporting this amazing cause? You can donate and find out more about Selina’s progress on her Facebook Fundraisers page.


Making a big impact at Careline Homecare in Sheffield

Michelle Thistlewhite, our Registered Manager in Sheffield, wanted to share this letter that the Careline Homecare team received from the family of a service user. After reading this heart-warming and inspiring message on a particularly stressful day, it reminded everyone at the branch how our services can have a big impact on the families we support.

The service user’s sister wrote to say:

“I was reading the recent letter about services being offered from your company during this difficult and challenging time and it prompted me to want to write to you on behalf of my brother and our family to say a big thank you to your staff for the consistent and reliable service we have received since we first engaged with you all.

“We are very aware of the risks being taken by you all during this pandemic and want you to know how grateful we are and that we don’t take ANY of it for granted. You are each making sacrifices to help us keep our vulnerable family member as safe as possible and I wish we could send you more than our sincere thanks.

“Before you encountered him, my brother had lived very reclusively for over ten years and he had refused all attempts with support for longer than that. In the period before Careline was introduced to us via the Stroke Service I was really struggling because he basically felt life was not worth living and he was sitting waiting to die.

“My brother is no longer the independent, confident and organised person he was before he became ill and suffered several strokes, but he is now definitely capable of feeling happy. This is very important to us all. I feel this massive step forward is in a large part down to the relationships he’s created with your staff. Your workers have been friendly, respectful and supportive with him which in turn has improved his confidence with people generally. That has played a huge part in encouraging him to engage with family and accept our support.

“Whatever happens to Nick in the future we definitely could not have brought him to where he is now without your continued help. He was lost but now he is found.”

Michelle told us, “As the manager, I am extremely proud of how hard the entire team have worked during the pandemic. Receiving this letter was really lovely and even brought a lump to the throat of a couple of us reading it. It shows that the care workers and office staff’s continued dedication to provide a safe and quality service really is worth all the hard work.”

Perfectly put Michelle, we couldn’t agree more. A huge well done to all the team in Sheffield.

Parliament debates social care workers

Finally, did you sign the petition urging the government to consider social care as equally important to NHS? Following over 44,000 signatures, MPs debated the issue in Parliament last Thursday. You can watch the debate here.

Sadly, it’s too late to sign the petition now. But even if you missed out, you can see the results and the government’s response here.