New Care Minister visits London Care

Yesterday, our London Care branch in Rotherhithe welcomed the new Care Minister Gillian Keegan MP on a visit organised by Homecare Association CEO Jane Townson.

The Minister met members of the care worker team at the branch to hear first-hand about the challenges they face in delivering care in Southwark. Gillian Keegan MP explained the Government’s plans to tackle the social care crisis following its recent funding announcement.

Director of Policy and Communications Max Wurr said, “We are delighted that the Minister chose to visit one of our companies within just a few days of taking office and were encouraged by her willingness to listen and by her positive approach. We will await this autumn’s social care White Paper with interest to see more detail about how the new funding will reach the front line and support our wonderful and dedicated workforce.”

You can read more about the visit on the Homecare Association website. Huge thanks go to the branch manager Olu Fademi and Regional Director Sarah Kwofie for their help in organising the visit.

Homecare Association rebrands and relaunches

Our professional association, The Homecare Association (formerly the UKHCA), has rebranded and relaunched its fantastic new website. You’re all invited to pay a visit and bookmark the page here.

The Homecare Association is the UK’s membership body for homecare providers, ensuring that homecare is valued so that all of us can live well at home and flourish within our communities.

The association has been a real ally and voice for our sector for many years and especially over the past eighteen months and we think they’ve done an amazing job with the new image – do let us know your thoughts so we can pass them on.

Changes to international travel rules in England

From 4am on 4th October the rules for international travel to England will change. The current traffic light system will reduce to a single reduced red list of countries, and simplified travel measures for arrivals.

The rules for travel from countries not on the red list will depend on each traveller’s vaccination status. However, PCR tests will not be needed for fully vaccinated travellers returning to England.

You can read the full rules on the red, green and amber lists here.

Have your say on mandatory vaccinations for care staff

Don’t forget that the Government needs your input on plans for staff in all health and care settings in England to be required to have COVID-19 and flu vaccines. The intention is to protect vulnerable people and follows the recent decision to make vaccinations mandatory for staff in care homes.

As we shared with you last week, we will be making a corporate response to the consultation. However, individual employees and members of the public are welcome to make their own personal responses here.

Kellie and Neil tackle three peaks in three weeks

Complete Care Amegreen’s Kellie and Neil completed their #3PEAKSIN3WEEKS challenge in support of the Spinal Injuries Association over the weekend by conquering Ben Nevis! We’re sure we speak for everyone when we say how proud we are of them both. They have tackled some obstacles along the way but they didn’t let that stop them and they can now say they have reached the summit of 

the three highest peaks in the UK.

In Kellie’s own words “I have been working with Spinal Cord Injured clients for 10 years now and I feel extremely privileged to be marking my 10 year anniversary with this challenge of a lifetime. I am honoured to be sharing this milestone with a charity and organisation so close to my heart.”

Having now completed the three peaks, Kellie has said that Ben Nevis was by far the most challenging and she says “the one thing that remained on my mind and got me to the summit of the 1,345 metre mountain, was remembering the reason I am doing this, for Martin, his team and the SIA.’”

Please join us in congratulating Kellie and Neil, and lets do all that we can to mark this fantastic achievement by reaching their fundraising target of £2000! Small or large, every little helps, please follow this link to donate and show your support.

Welcome to the North Devon team our new Care Manager Sian Jones!

Over the past 20 years Sian has acquired a vast amount of knowledge and experience within the care sector which is partly why we believe she is perfect for HomeLife Carers.

Sian hosts an approachable and supportive attitude towards her care staff with an ‘open door’ policy and a desire to see all staff progress both personally and professionally.

In addition to her role as Care Manager, Sian also visits our service users in the community alongside our dedicated team of care workers across North Devon.

Sian’s aim is to offer a more personal service, and with a smaller, close-nit team in place we believe this will have a positive effect on both our care staff and service users alike.

These are exciting and promising times ahead for HomeLife Carers and look forward to you joining us on this journey.


Webinar – inspiring quality in social care

Skills for Care is holding a webinar to celebrate quality in social care in England, looking at:

  • What is quality in social care?
  • Living quality: sharing experiences and tips on quality social care from the perspectives of local government commissioners, providers, and people with lived experience.
  • Future quality: what will change in how we approach quality over the next 2 to 3 years and what will the potential impact be?

The event, which is part of the Quality Matters initiative and has been developed by a group of national social care and health organisations led by NICE and Skills for Care, will explore people’s experiences and perspectives about what quality means in adult social care, both now in pandemic management and recovery planning, and what quality social care means in the future.

The webinar is suitable for anyone working in frontline adult social care management with an interest in improving quality of service delivery. It takes place on 14th October 2021 at 1.30pm and you can register here.

Natasha’s marathon for mental health

Natasha Punter from the Business Support Team returned to the office recently after successfully completing the Brighton Marathon in aid of CALM – the Campaign Against Living Miserably.

Natasha’s reasons for tackling a challenge in aid of mental health are incredibly personal, she told us, “My very dear friend of 22 years took her own life last year after her mental health deteriorated quite rapidly during lockdown. She was young, so full of life and the very LAST person I thought would walk in front of a train.”

“In the month after this I saw a film on the BBC about a young man whose mental health was adversely affected during lockdown last year, and he took his own life leaving his fiancé and young son, he was just 27. The pandemic affected mental health far more than we think and CALM are a charity trying to help families and anyone struggling mentally with thoughts of suicide. CALM supported his family through the aftermath but said they could not even fund their helpline past 5pm, which really hit home how charities were also affected last year, and I felt I had to fundraise for them.”

“I’d never even thought about running a marathon before but thought why not – it was a good way to raise funds and take on a personal challenge. And I raised £770 in the end!”

Such an impactful story Natasha and congratulations on smashing your first marathon. It’s not too late to support Natasha’s amazing cause either, you can find out more and donate on her Just Giving page.

Helen and Gloria save the day in Swansea

We were recently contacted by a member of the public to tell about the heroics two members of the Abacare team in Swansea, Gloria and Helen. After he was involved in a traffic accident with a lady who had blacked out, Mr Goodwin wanted to express his appreciation for Gloria and Helen’s clear thinking in a crisis.

Mr Goodwin told us, “Gloria and Helen were traveling behind the lady’s car and were quick to respond to the incident. They both took control of the situation making sure I was fine, but then moved straight onto the lady trapped in hers. Once we managed to get the door open they turned into two heroes. They comforted the lady and kept her calm, all whilst this was going on dealing with the passing public.

“Once the situation was in hand Gloria left the incident advising that she had a client to attend to, and Helen would stay on until the ambulance arrived.

“These two ladies Not only took charge of a serious incident but also had the professionalism to think about their appointments and patients, no doubt needing just as much care. I’m not sure what sort of recognition your company have but these two ladies made a difference today and they very much need recognising for it.”

We couldn’t agree more, such an inspiring response by two amazing members of the Abacare team. Their manager, Helen Tennant, let us know that Mr Goodwin even dropped by the branch later with bottles of Champaign for his two heroes.

Government publishes plan for COVID response this autumn and winter


The Government has published its COVID Response – Autumn and Winter Plan for 2021 (here), a five-point plan to address a rise in COVID-19 and flu cases in England this winter.

The plan sets out a programme of booster COVID-19 jabs for those who were in the first phase for vaccination and whose second jab was more than six months ago. This starts on 20th September and includes all adults aged 50 years or over, as well as frontline health and social care workers – including our care teams.

The recommended booster is a single dose of the Pfizer jab or half-dose of the Moderna one. People can even get the booster at the same time as their flu jab, which will be especially important this winter.

The Winter Plan confirms PCR and LFD testing will remain free and that legal requirements to self-isolate will continue. The Plan also advises that compulsory face masks for the public and vaccine passports also remain a possibility.

Fifteen years of support from brilliant Bela

The Quality team have asked us to extend their thanks to Bela Thakrar who, this week, marks her fantastic fifteenth anniversary as part of the City & County family.

After joining London Care way back on the 18th September 2006 as a care support worker, Bela’s skills and passion immediately shone-out as she supported the community around the Northwood, Eastcote and Ruislip area.

Upon moving to the Willow House Extra Care scheme in 2015, Bela also started helping with risk assessments and care planning. Bela’s skills meant that she was soon offered the role of team leader at the scheme, before taking the opportunity to start a new service – Newcroft House – in 2017. This gave Bela further in-depth knowledge and experience of running and establishing the extra care services, which Bela was able to expand on at the nearby Willow House scheme too.

It was whilst at Willow house that Bela’s commitment and keen eye for detail were recognised with the offer of a new role, that of Clinical and Support Manager, which Bela now enjoys with the Quality team.

A huge thank you from all of us at City & County for your commitment over the years Bela. We all look forward to working alongside you for a long time to come.

Consultation on mandatory vaccination of the home care workforce in England

The Government is seeking views on plans for staff in all health and care settings in England – including home care – to be required to have COVID-19 vaccines. This is to protect vulnerable people and  follows the recent decision to make vaccinations mandatory for staff in care homes.

It would mean only those who are fully vaccinated, unless medically exempt, could deliver health and care services. The consultation will also seek views on whether flu vaccines should be a requirement for health and care workers.

As you will know from our regular communications, City & County strongly supports the vaccination of health and care staff, and we are pleased that the majority of our staff have obtained their vaccinations. However, we are concerned that making vaccinations mandatory could seriously impact staff capacity and the continuity of the vital care services we provide.

We will be making these points in a corporate response to the consultation. However, you are also welcome to make your own personal responses here.

New guidance materials for flu vaccination

As our teams across the UK continue to manage the impact of COVID-19, let’s not to forget how important a simple flu jab is to ensuring the safety of our staff and those we care for.

Flu vaccination for social care staff directly working with people clinically vulnerable to flu is free and strongly encouraged. Public Health England (PHE) have developed guidance to support staff to understand the importance of getting the flu vaccine this season.

There are materials for staff in different care settings, covering who is eligible, how to get a vaccination and where you can get one from. The guidance also answers some common questions about the vaccine – for example, did you know that you cannot catch flu from the flu jab because there are no live viruses in the vaccine?

You can find out more and download the materials here.

Encouraging words in Tameside

Finally, one of our Careline Homecare branch managers, Vicki Kinder, shared some inspiring feedback she’d received from the Tameside commissioning team. Victoria Heyes, Commissioning and Contracts Officer for Tameside Metropolitan Borough, contacted Vicki to say:

“I feel things seem to have got harder all round all of a sudden. I know this might seem an empty gesture, but I want you to know I couldn’t be more proud to work with you. Hold your head up high, because you are amazing and doing a fantastic job.”

Such amazing feedback Vicki and thank you for sharing. It’s so rewarding to see just how much commissioners appreciate the hard work that our teams are doing every day.

What the new changes in COVID restrictions mean for us

A high number of our service users and a significant proportion of our staff are in higher risk groups in relation to the impact of COVID infection. While the general restrictions for the public may be relaxing, our legal and ethical duties to protect you and our service users do not disappear.

With the virus again spreading at speed, self-isolation rules still in place, and a general shortage of new staff, we cannot afford to have high levels of absence as we go into the summer – the continuity of services depends on you and your colleagues keeping well and at work.

In view of the above, we have taken the difficult decision that there will be very little change at this stage in terms of how we ensure COVID safety at work: 

PPE and infection control in care delivery

There are no changes planned in the government guidance on infection control and the use of PPE in care services and no changes to our policies at this time. Care workers and other front-line staff must continue to:

–          Practice regular handwashing and use face masks, gloves and aprons whilst delivering care;

–          Wear masks when sharing vehicles travelling between service users’ homes;

–          Undertake routine lateral flow and PCR testing (both of which remain free to care staff) as directed by management;

–          Notify their manager of their vaccine status;

–          Wear a mask or face covering when they visit the office.

PPE in live-in care

There is a slight change on the guidance on PPE in live-in care services as Public Health England        has updated its guidance on PPE for homecare in England to include a new section on live-in care (here).

Managers who are delivering live-in care should read the whole document, but a key point is that the guidance specifies that care workers living with a service user for long periods will be considered part of the household and as such will not need to wear PPE whilst doing domestic duties unless anyone in the household is known to have COVID-19 or is displaying symptoms.

PPE must still be worn for personal care, however, and live-in care workers are subject to the same rules on self-isolation as everyone else in the event that they develop symptoms or test positive for the virus.

COVID-Secure practices in offices

Managers must review their COVID-Secure office risk assessment (seeking assistance from as required) to ensure that they remain up to date and fit for purpose. Staff in offices must continue to:

–          Practice regular handwashing and cleaning regimes;

–          Maintain social distancing – (social distancing in training rooms may now be reduced to “1m+” providing trainees are wearing a face covering and other control measures, such as fully open windows are in place);

–          Wear a face covering when sharing a workspace with others;

–          Observe all other risk control measures, such as ventilation.

  • Managers must continue to keep collecting and submitting their COVID-19 data, both internally and externally as appropriate, and including information on vaccine uptake. However, please note that managers in support services (i.e. locations other than branches and Extra Care sites) are not required to maintain vaccination data on their staff.
  • All staff must continue to observe the rules on self-isolation if they have COVID-19 symptoms, test positive, or are otherwise directed to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace. (This requirement is set to change in mid-August for those that are double-vaccinated).

We echo the words of Prime Minister Boris Johnson in relation to individual responsibility. We can impose policies and rules at work, but we cannot control what you do in your own time. However, we would remind you that if you work in a role that means you will be coming into contact with people who may be unvaccinated or otherwise particularly vulnerable to coronavirus, as most of you do, you have a duty as a citizen to act responsibly to protect others. We urge you, in every aspect of your life, to:

  • Be sensible and risk-aware;
  • Get fully vaccinated and take advantage of regular free testing;
  • Avoid situations and places where large numbers of people are gathering without precautions, especially indoors, and consider continuing to wear a face covering in such spaces and on public transport;
  • Respect the fact that many people are still frightened about the prospects of catching the virus.

As ever, we will keep all the above under review and let you know if and when policies change.

Travel restrictions and quarantine – a reminder

From 4am on 19th July, the government is dropping its recommendation against travel to amber list countries. Arrivals who have been fully vaccinated with an NHS-administered vaccine in the UK (plus 14 days to allow for the vaccine to become effective), or are on a formally approved UK vaccine clinical trial, returning to England from amber list countries will no longer need to quarantine.

Passengers will need to provide proof of their vaccination status to travel carriers in advance of travel. Pre-departure testing, and day 2 (PCR) testing measures are to remain. Children under the age of 18 will be exempt from quarantine on returning to England from amber countries.

We urge everyone considering overseas travel at present to carefully consider the risks and to plan accordingly, and to be reminded of our policy on self- isolation following travel see below.

Rules on self-isolation following travel

Operations and Central Support Teams
If you travel to a country where you are required to self-isolate upon return and you are able to work from home, you may do so for the required period of quarantine. However, if you test positive for COVID-19 during this period of isolation and you are unable to work, then our SSP policy will apply.

If you are required to self-isolate upon return and you are unable to carry out your role from home, then your period of isolation should be taken as annual leave, or unpaid leave. However, if you test positive for COVID-19 during this period of isolation and you are unable to work, then our SSP policy will apply.

Care workers
Care workers required to self-isolate upon return should take annual leave, or unpaid leave for the required period of self-isolation. However, if they test positive for COVID-19 during this period of isolation and they are unable to work, then our SSP policy will apply.

Welcome to our new Director of Complex Care, Jonathan Byrd

This week we welcome Jonathan Byrd to the City & County family. Jonathan will be leading the team at our recently formed complex care operating division.

Aligning our complex care businesses to better support our customers and frontline services – as well as set us up for future growth – has meant looking at the structure of the support functions across all of our brands and identifying changes that will make the most of our shared experience and skills. We’re thrilled that Jonathan will be on board to oversee these improvements as Director of Complex Care.

Jonathan’s last role was with Ramsay Healthcare UK where, as Group Projects Director, he led on major strategic business transformation projects including acquisitions and corporate reputational risk. With over 30 years’ experience in healthcare, Jonathan’s knowledge of our sector will be vital in the shaping of the Complex Care Division. Welcome Jonathan!

Podcast part two – CQC strategy 2021

Last week, we provided you with a link to Anthony Collins Solicitors’ podcast on the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) new strategy for how it regulates health and social care in England.

You can now listen to part two here.

The first part is also still available here

Contract Wins

We’ve been awarded a platform agreement for Homecare, Respite and Sitting services as Custom Care – Cannock, as part of the Staffordshire County Council contract.

Thank you to Nicky Tucker and Ellie Cross, and everyone involved in the bid for their work securing it.

We’ve also been successful with the same platform agreement for Homecare with HSG – Stoke on Trent with Staffordshire County Council. Thanks to everyone involved for their great work on this bid, with special mentions to Helen Dale, David Percox and Cat Starr for their time and effort.

Congratulations Paul!

Paul Kershaw, our North West region Training Officer, has accepted an offer from the Greater Manchester Police Inspector and Mayor Andy Burnham to be part of the newly formed Independent Community Scrutiny Panel Committee (ICSP.)

This voluntary role will scrutinise Greater Manchester Police’s stop and search processes and powers with the Committee’s findings feeding into the Force’s Equality and Diversity policy. Well done Paul!

Wonderful Wembley photos

Sadly for England fans, it didn’t come home, but our teams still made the most of England’s appearance in the final of the Euros.

One of our Regional Managers, Juliana Inegbese, let us know about how the service users at Bristol Court in Hounslow enjoyed the match. Juliana told us that they all had a fabulous time – they certainly look like they are enjoying themselves.

Karen Stevenson, our Accounts Administrator, also told us about her her weekend in Wembley.

Karen and her son Ben were lucky enough to get tickets for the Final last Sunday and they decided to make a weekend of it. Karen, who is a steward at Derby County Football Club, was taken aback by the positive atmosphere. Karen explains, ‘….for all the bad publicity for various reasons, there was plenty of good and beautiful, amazing people on and off the pitch.’

Top officials thank adult social care staff

Last week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Care Minister Helen Whately, Chief Nurse Deborah Sturdy and Chief Social Worker Lyn Romeo wrote a joint letter to staff in the adult social care sector. They wanted to thank everyone for their efforts during the pandemic, stating:

“Last Spring, we were in the midst of the very worst days of the pandemic.

“Today, thanks to your unwavering dedication, your willingness to adapt to the highest standards of infection prevention control, and the success of the biggest mass vaccination programme in our history, we are in a much better place.

“Adaptability has been one of your greatest strengths. Throughout the pandemic, you have embraced many changes to daily practice, always keeping in mind the needs of the people you support. Recently and most importantly, you have supported the vaccination roll-out as part of your work to protect those in your care.

“All of this against the backdrop of an increased workload: covering shifts for absent colleagues, working while children are off school, and coping with your own grief, anxieties and personal caring responsibilities. We take none of this for granted and remain deeply grateful for your continued commitment.

“We’ve seen the challenges you’ve overcome, how you’ve adapted and supported each other as well as those you care for. Now we can be much more optimistic about managing this pandemic, further easing restrictions and eventually restoring our lives to something closely resembling normality.

“You have been there when your residents, clients and colleagues needed you most. With free PPE guaranteed until March 2022 and free access to mental health and wellbeing support specifically for health and care workers, we intend to be there for you too.

“We hope you know how much we appreciate your professional and personal efforts.”

We fully echo this message and would like to extend our thanks to every one of you for your hard work and commitment during this incredibly challenging period.

Keeping yourself and our clients safe in hot weather

Monday saw the hottest day of the year so far, with further hot weather forecast across the UK in the coming days and thunderstorms expected towards the end of the week.

Please remember that breathing problems and cardiovascular conditions can both be made worse by heat, and warmer weather can also bring on cramps, rashes, dizziness and fainting. In the worst cases, heatstroke may develop.

The accompanying heavy rain may lead to local flooding, so please remember to take due care driving and, if not using your own vehicle, to pack an umbrella or waterproof clothing

Thank you to the Abbotswood team

Sarah Thomas shared another compliment for the committed London Care team at the Abbotswood Extra Care scheme in Littlehampton. After their mother sadly passed away, her children wrote to the scheme to express just how much the team meant to the family over the years, telling them:

“Thank you, Millie and all the care team so much for the care, support, love and friendship that you gave to our lovely mum over the years that she so happily lived at Abbotswood. My brother and I wanted to place on record how enormously grateful we are to you and all the care team for the care, support and more that you give each and every day.

“At any time that more was needed the support was always there. A doctor or dental appointment that I couldn’t be there for. I and she knew she was in safe and caring hands. Thank you.

“In March things became more challenging, but the team ensured that she went to hospital promptly to get her condition stabilised. It was a huge relief for her, and us, that you did it and that she was able to spend the last weeks of her life back in her own home. The level of care and support that you and your team were able to provide was amazing and it cannot be under estimated how this ensured that mum’s end of life care was peaceful and comfortable. She knew you all so well and there you were. Marvellous.

“Alison, you and Millie were such a support to me too. The fact that all this wonderful care was being provided in the midst of the Covid pandemic really is a great testament to the whole care team. So many carers helped mum that is isn’t possible to name everyone but I particularly appreciated Linda who took caring control and Claire and Tania taking care of mum (and me!) the last time I was there with her.

“We will always be so thankful that mum was able to spend her last days in her own home with carers (friends) who knew her and took such good care of her. Please feel free to pass on our thanks to everyone involved in providing such high quality care including end of life care.”

Such heart-warming feedback from this family. Thank you to everyone at the scheme for the compassion and support you gave to this service user and her family. It’s clear how big an impact you all made.

Men’s Health Week: tell us your reflections

This week is Men’s Health Week and this year’s theme is Mental Health and COVID-19.

Everybody’s mental health has been challenged by the lockdowns and insecurities of the last year and it’s not over. As we emerge from what we hope will be the worst of the pandemic, questions, concerns and anxieties remain. Men’s Health Week 2021 asks – how do we move forward?

We want to hear from you – please share with us your reflections from the past year:

  • What have you learnt about yourself and your own wellbeing?
  • What are you looking forward to doing again?
  • What have you improved or changed in your life?
  • What will you keep doing?

Please email your thoughts to – we would love to share your thoughts in our upcoming communications (anonymously if you prefer).

LifeWorks – Employee Assistance Programme

Have you struggled with mental health and insecurity during the pandemic? Please remember you can take advantage of confidential expert help – at no cost – with professional counselling services available through LifeWorks, our employee assistance programme.

Professionally trained counsellors are available 24/7 to offer emotional and practical support, and resources for you and your loved ones.

This completely confidential service is there to help you. No one will know you have called.

Call LifeWorks on 0800 1691920 today to access the right support for you. Alternatively use the Chat function on the website or app to start the conversation.

However, if you’re not quite ready to talk, visit the LifeWorks app or website to access the online wellbeing resources.

Heart-warming thanks for the SCRT team in Dunblane

Finally, Mathew Green, Registered Manager for SCRT Homecare sent us a picture of hand-made gifts and messages the team in Dunblane received his week.

Mathew told us, “In celebrating Carer’s Week last week, the Dunblane SCRT team were kindly gifted these lovely knitted hearts by St Mary’s Church and the Dementia Friendly Dunblane Group. They wanted to thank the care staff for all the work that they are doing in the community – supporting the service users they attend and supporting the group whenever they can.”

We think they look fantastic and it’s amazing to see just how much the care team mean to the local community.

Tell us your news!

Remember that we’d love to share your news in the Weekly Round-Up, so if you have a great story to tell about your staff or service users, please do email us

A reminder on travel restrictions and quarantine

Following further updates from the government on travel restrictions and quarantine, please remember our policy on self-isolation upon returning to the UK.

Any staff in operations and central support teams who travel to a country where you are required to self-isolate upon return, if you are able to work from home you may do so for the required period of quarantine. However, if you test positive for COVID-19 during this period of isolation and you are unable to work, then our SSP policy will apply.

If you are required to self-isolate upon return and you are unable to carry out your role from home, then your period of isolation should be taken as annual leave, or unpaid leave. However, if you test positive for COVID-19 during this period of isolation and you are unable to work, then our SSP policy will apply.

We urge everyone considering overseas travel at present to carefully consider the risks and to plan accordingly.

Time is running out to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme

We’ve recently sent our reminders on our weekly communications regarding the applying for the EU Settlement Scheme.  

If you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen and if you haven’t already done so already, then please don’t forget to apply for the scheme. You’ll need to make an application to continue living in the UK and the deadline date is 30 June 2021, which isn’t long.

Please click on this link to apply as soon as you can. Applications are free of charge.

Once you’ve received your response with settled or pre-settled status, please provide your share code to the HR department. The main contact for this is

We look forward to hearing from you with your share codes.

Getting out and about for Dementia Action Week

Maria Gerardo, Day Centre Coordinator at the Pullen Day Centre, has sent us some fabulous pictures of the centre’s activities with service users during Dementia Action Week.

The London Care team had originally planned for a garden tea party to bring their service users together, but sadly the British weather had other ideas. So, instead, the team went out into to visit their clients and the community through the week.

The first picture is of our service User Norman, who was talking and reminiscing about Pimlico – which is where the day centre is based. Norman and his care worker, Bisi, went through a book with all the different places around Pimlico, comparing how it looked then compared to now. Norman and Bisi also shared a sensory activity where you have to smell and touch an item and guess what it is.

Next we have Tina, who took our lovely client Rosemary out for a stroll. They visited a number of parks around Pimlico and discussed how much they have changed since Rosemary has lived there.

Finally, Marlene took Ms Joly around Dolphin square where they visited the shops inside the building. After their walk, they even sang some of Ms Joly’s favourite songs to help her reminisce.

Thanks for sharing Maria, it’s great to see our clients being able to get out and about as COVID-19 restrictions ease. We hope they had a great time visiting old memories.

Welcome to our new branch and scheme managers

There are some new faces that you’ll be getting to know across the branches and schemes at City & County. We’d like to offer a warm welcome to our new managers, who you’ll get to work with over the coming months.

Across our Extra Care schemes, we’ve recently been joined by Louise Hogan who covers Jackson Gardens and Bailey Court in Knowsley, and Edward Amissah at Bristol Court. We’ve also had a new arrival, Louise Witwit, who will be managing multiple schemes across the Liverpool area – Links View, Meadow Court, Millachip Court and Latham Court.

At our homecare branches, we’d also like to welcome Sussana Ansah in Crayford, Vicki Kinder in Tameside, Mel Bartley in Nottingham and Stuart Archer in Plymouth to the City & County family. We look forward to getting to know you all.

A Model Branch milestone

This Monday we reached a huge milestone for the Model Branch programme, with our final homecare site being transferred from CareFree rostering system to the Model Branch. This takes us to an impressive 112 sites now live on the platform.

Liam Arnold, Head of System Implementation, asked us to pass on his appreciation for everyone’s hard work in getting to this stage, writing:

“I cannot thank you all enough for the hard work and engagement throughout the last three years to get us to this big milestone. The pride and passion we see each branch bring to the project to ensure a safe smooth transfer blows my mind at each go-live… so thank you!

“We could not have done any of this without you and your teams so please pass on my thanks. The journey isn’t over, we still have more sites to go and even more exciting digital transformation to come. The fun has only just started!

“You all are a true inspiration for the business, to manage business as usual as well as a huge digital transformation programme is testament to you all – and equally putting up with me and my squad at times.”

A huge thanks to everyone who has contributed in getting us to this landmark point in the roll-out of Model Branch.

Men’s Health Week 14th – 20th June 2021

Next week is Men’s Health Week and this year’s theme is Mental Health and COVID-19.

Men’s Health Week is celebrated globally and the overall aims of week are to:

  1. Heighten awareness of preventable health problems for males of all ages.
  2. Support men and boys to engage in healthier lifestyle choices / activities.
  3. Encourage the early detection and treatment of health difficulties in males.

Even before the pandemic, men’s mental health was a cause for concern. There is a grave disparity in the high number of men who die from suicide and the low number of men who seek treatment for depression, anxiety and other mental health challenges.

The ‘Can do’ Challenge – Each day, try a different way

The five ways to wellbeing are five things we can all do that are scientifically-proven to help us feel better. For each day of Men’s Health Week we are calling on everyone to choose a different way to wellbeing.

The five ways are:

  • Connect – connect with other people (e.g. call an old friend you haven’t since before lockdown);
  • Active – move your body (e.g. go for a run/walk/swim);
  • Notice – take notice of the environment around you (e.g. turn off your phone for an hour);
  • Discover – learn something new (e.g. read a book you haven’t read before);
  • Offer – do something for someone else (e.g. volunteer for a local community group).


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.

We are delighted to announce that Lynn Krige will be joining as the new Chief Financial Officer for City & County Healthcare Group from Monday 17th May. Lynn will be replacing Nick Goodban in this capacity and will report to our CEO, James Thorburn.

Nick Goodban Lynn Krige City & County

Nick Goodban, our previous Finance Director, is moving to a new role as Director for Mergers & Acquisitions. Nick has led our finance function as well as our mergers and acquisitions activity for many years. Given the importance of acquisitions and commercial deal-making to our strategic plans, we have made the decision to split the role – allowing both Lynn and Nick to dedicate their focus on each area.

Lynn is a seasoned CFO and Board Member in both privately-owned and listed businesses, and joins us from Well Pharmacy – where she was CFO in an £800m turnover business with over 750 pharmacies nationwide. Prior to this, Lynn was CFO at the inspection services business British Engineering Services and at the equipment supply business Speedy Hire PLC. Lynn was also for many years at John Laing PLC, where latterly she was Group Finance Director and a Board Member.

Lynn grew up in South Africa but has spent the last 20 years in the UK and now lives with her family in West Lancashire. We are delighted that Lynn is joining the team and ask for everyone’s help and support as she goes through her induction and gets to know the business.

Care Heroes Awards: Care or Support worker of the Year

In our final update on the winners and finalists of our 2020 Care Heroes awards, this week it’s the big one – Care or Support Worker of the Year. This award recognises any care or support worker who has embodied the group’s values and behaviours in every aspect of their work. We’d also like to say a huge thank you to our guest judge for this category, Jane Townson, CEO of the UK Home Care Association.

Winner: Nicky Jennings – Surrey SCP, Redhill

In nominating Nicky, her manager, Alison Phillips told us, “Nicky has worked for Surrey SCP almost three and a half years and is the most exceptional care worker that any family member would want looking after their parents.  She demonstrates excellent practices and follows our policies and procedures exactly.”

Alison continued, “Nicky is one of two senior care workers in her area of work and I can honestly say that it runs like clockwork with everything in order. Nicky ensures there are never any events such as missed medications, there is never a missed visit and there are never any complaints about her work. Nicky is one of the most reliable members of the team, and her attendance, punctuality and commitment to delivering an excellent level of care is something that we should model all care workers on.”

During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, we also found out that Nicky took time each day to go to the local Sainsbury’s at the 7am carers’ slot.  She would shop for all her service users, preventing them from coming to any harm – doing so without being asked and in her own time. During that period nothing was too much for Nicky and it proved just what an outstanding carer she really is.

Alison summarised by telling us that “In times of trouble, Nicky can be relied on to step up and make the difference. We would be lost without Nicky and so would her service users.”

In choosing the winner, Jane Townson spoke with the daughter of two of Nicky’s clients, who repeatedly commented, “We don’t know what we’d do without her”. We don’t know what we’d do without you either Nicky, congratulations on being our well-deserved winner.

Congratulations to our finalists

A huge well done to our other finalists this year – Heather Jasper at Abacare in Bangor and Bisi Jinadu from the London Care team at the Pullen Day Centre.

Heather has worked for Abacare since 2016, and embodies the group’s values and behaviours in every aspect – being a mentor and shadow support during her time with us. Heather even committed to supporting new staff at the branch, despite her own daughter and husband being diagnosed with cancer at the same time.

Heather has continued to work through their treatment, and has never once taken a day off sick. We’re told that Heather shows great empathy and compassion even when she is having the toughest of times in her own personal life, greeting everyone with a smile – you would never know the personal issues she is battling.

When nominating Bisi, Maria Gerardo said that, “Bisi is an extremely hard working team member, she always goes above and beyond with our clients – even visiting them during lockdown after our day centre closed. If any of our clients had a birthday in lockdown, she would bring them cake and cards and continues to do this as we still haven’t re-opened our centre.”

During the pandemic, Bisi also made time to ensure that her clients could stay safe and well indoors, buying shopping each week to help those shielding or still unable to get out. We even had student volunteers who have written letters to our elderly clients, and Bisi has not failed to make sure these are delivered – even if she has to drop it to our clients’ homes herself. Above all, Bisi has gone out of her way to make sure that her none of clients have missed-out as a result of COVID-19.

As expected, this was a particularly tricky award to judge. Jane even commented, “I’m sure that you can see my problem. How on earth does one choose between these three exceptional care workers?” You are all truly worthy finalists, and represent the very best of everything we aspire to do at City & County.

That’s all for our worthy 2020 award winners and finalists, but we look forward to updating you on our exciting 2021 Care Heroes Awards soon.

Mental Health Awareness Week 10th – 16th May

Mental Health Awareness Week takes place this week, and this year’s theme is nature.

The Mental Health Foundation started the annual event 21 years ago with the aim of getting people to have conversations about mental health and the things in our daily lives that affect it.

Last week we shared with you some tips and resources to help you connect with nature, which are still available. Why not use the Nature Journal here to help you document how you feel about nature and your mental health or click here for top tips on connecting with nature?

Start a conversation about Mental Health

Mental Health Awareness Week is a chance for every one of us to think about our own mental health and to talk about any aspect of mental health, regardless of the theme.

Mental Health Matters have specially recorded a short video for us to help create an awareness of mental health – covering the signs, symptoms and causes of mental ill health and support techniques available.

Why not:

  • Take some time out of your day
  • Reflect on what mental health means to you and your own state of mental health, and;
  • Start a conversation with your friends, family or colleagues about mental health

Mental Health Matters is a national charity with over 35 years of experience in delivering high-quality mental health and social care services. They support more than 15,500 people every month to access treatment and achieve their recovery goals. Visit their website here for helpful resources and information.

Recognising ten years’ service for dedicated Hilday

Danielle Russell, Branch Manager for Careline Homecare, wanted to pass on her appreciation for a member of the Berwick upon Tweed team – Hilday Drysdale. April marked ten years of dedicated service for Hilday in the branch, and during that time she has made a huge impact on both her colleagues and service users.

Danielle told us, “Over the years Hilday has courageously and faithfully been dedicated to providing exceptional care to her service users, always going above and beyond putting herself at risk on many occasions. As she works within the rural areas, there have been many times when she has battled through snow and ice, torrential rains and high winds to make sure that her service users where safe and well.”

Danielle continued, “Hilday is highly respected by her service users and all of her colleagues. We would like to offer a huge thank you to Hilday and send out gratitude for her dedication.”

Thank you for your commitment to your service users and colleagues Hilday. You sound like an absolute superstar for the Careline Homecare team.

Appreciation for the Jackson Gardens team

Finally, Richard Wheatley, Regional Manager – North West, has asked us to share his appreciation for the Comfort Call team at the new Jackson Gardens Extra Care scheme in Knowsley.

Richard told us, “Louise Hogan, Registered Manager, has been working hard with her care team on implementing Jackson Gardens. I have been to meet the care team this morning and it is great to see how passionate the team are in providing good quality care to service users.”

Thank you Louise and everyone involved for your hard work in getting the scheme up and running.

Care Heroes Awards: Above and Beyond Award

We’re celebrating the finalists of our Above and Beyond Award this week. This award recognises any front-line care or support worker who has gone beyond the call of duty for the well-being of service users.

Winner: Nicola Beeston – Careline Homecare, Darlington

Our care teams never know quite what to expect when arriving at a service user’s home, and sometimes it can take quick-thinking and dedication to respond to a tricky situation. For one particular care worker – Nicola Beeston – a teatime visit in July of last year proved to be a prime example.

Expecting it to be her final call before she was due to finish work, Nicola quickly found the service user’s husband was unwell and in pain. He told Nicola had not sought any medical advice as there are no friends or family locally that could help support his wife, who has dementia, if he was taken to hospital. Nicola reassured him that his wife would be well taken care of and contacted the branch to say that she was willing to stay overnight – which Nicola did until the service user’s husband was able to return home.

The service user’s husband later contacted the branch to praise Nicola for her actions. He said “Nicola must have had things she needed to do last night, her own family to get home to, but instead she stayed here to make sure that I went to hospital and got the help that I needed. I wouldn’t have gone otherwise and she knew that. It must have been scary for her to have to spend the night in a strange house but she didn’t show that, she just reassured me that my wife would be fine and I needed to concentrate on getting the help I needed. Thank you just isn’t enough, we just feel so lucky to have her.”

He continued, “Sometimes, when caring for someone with dementia, there is not a lot of fun in life. But Nicola, along with the other carers that visit, are a light in our lives. But what Nicola did that night was just outstanding and I’ll never be able to say how grateful I am.”

Congratulations to our finalists

A huge well done to our other finalists this year – Jane Gredig from Surrey SCP in Redhill and Sagecare’s double-up team of Jane Aoslin and Lisa Owens at Squires Gate.

In nominating Jane Gredig, her manger – Alison Phillips – told us that, “When the covid pandemic hit back in March we had a service user who was hugely affected.  She has advanced dementia and lives in her own flat, but she attended a day centre each day in between the care worker visits. When the day centre closed this lady lost her routine and started wandering the corridors of her accommodation each night and banging on doors.”

Social Service wanted to put the lady in a care home, but Alison and the team realised this would make her feel even more disorientated. Jane immediately stepped up and said she could not bear to see the service user suffer. She offered to move out of her home immediately and stay every night – doing so from March to August without complaint.

Jane left her own family behind and said to Alison that this was the reason why she came to the care industry, as she has a deep connection and passion for the service users. Alison commented, “I cannot thank Jane enough for her support especially throughout covid. She made the difference to so many and should be celebrated.”

When talking about Jane Aoslin and Lisa Owens, Samantha bond simply commented, “If my relatives needed care, these are the two I would wish to have in their home”. There are few recommendations higher than this.

After moving to the social care sector from careers in other industries, both Jane and Lisa have found their true calling in life. Working together as a team for the last three years, they have made an impact on all their service users lives – including some particularly challenging cases this past year.

The duo recently had taken on a package where it was discovered that communications had broken down between the service user and their wider family. Knowing the service user would not get the support they needed from relatives, Jane and Lisa did everything possible to make life more comfortable. From treating lice to helping the service user move into respite when their ceiling collapsed – nothing was too much for these two.

Samantha summed up, “Their dedication goes beyond the call of duty. The service users all request that these two are their carers when they are on duty. We are at a loss of how many selfless acts these two preform on a day to day basis.”

As you’d expect, our judges had particular difficulty choosing a winner for this category, rightly commenting that “They all deserve recognition”. Congratulations to you all, and thank you for everything you’ve done to support these vulnerable individuals – you are all very worthy finalists.

Lifetime Achievement Award update

Just in case you missed it from last week’s roundup, we’d also like to confirm that our Lifetime Achievement Award winner – Abiola Abbati – is from the London Care East London Branch. Congratulations again Abiola!

MiHomecare’s COVID-19 response wins at the LaingBuisson Awards

Congratulations to Helen Newcombe and the MiHomecare teams in Carmarthenshire and Swansea who won this year’s LaingBuisson Outstanding Response to COVID in Social Care Award. The award recognises examples of strong culture, delivering better care, excellent communication, and early responses in adapting to and overcoming challenges during the pandemic. 

Facing strong competition from across the social care sector, the judges ultimately recognised the MiHomecare teams’ drive to go beyond excellent service delivery in increasingly innovative ways.

At the very start of the pandemic, Helen developed two specialist Covid-19 response teams within her homecare workforce. Working closely with commissioners, and responding to the ongoing changes during the pandemic, the teams consistently delivered practical and measurable outcomes for their clients – despite the challenges caused by COVID-19.

Helen’s vision and ability to empower others has enriched many lives, from frontline staff to the people receiving care. Throughout the pandemic, staff morale has been high. Helen inspired her colleagues to think creatively. Helen’s ideas were shared during daily management calls and her innovations were replicated across MiHomecare.

In their application for the award, the teams acknowledged, “Covid-19 presented us with the biggest challenge we have faced in 24 years of homecare delivery. Despite this, morale and team cohesion has been exceptionally high because our staff were empowered to make a hugely positive impact on the people they care for and their colleagues.”

A huge ‘well done’ to everyone involved in the COVID-19 response at MiHomecare, your hard work and innovative approach has truly earned this award and recognition. We’re proud to have you all on-board as a valued part of the City & County family.

Birthday celebrations at home for Norman

Maria Gerardo at the Pullen Centre has sent us an uplifting story showing how the London Care team are engaging with their clients despite the centre being closed through the pandemic.

One of their clients – Norman – celebrated his birthday on Sunday, so the team paid him a birthday visit at his home. After a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday, Norman was so pleased to receive his chocolate eclairs, Cadburys chocolate bar and card.

Maria told us, “Norman hasn’t been out of the house for over a year, despite my team trying to get him to go for a walk outside or even around the building. But, he won’t leave his flat as he is so concerned about the virus. Norman has just had both of his jabs and is in very good spirits, so he’s excited to come back to our centre once we reopen again.”

Maria continued, “Norman is 82 years old and has been so strong through this whole pandemic. Despite not going out even for a walk, he is always so happy, cheerful and always pleased to see my staff.”

Happy birthday Norman, we hope you had a fantastic day.

Appreciation for our London Care teams

Magdalena Trepczynska, Regional Manager – South, has shared a series of appreciative messages from the families and contacts of service users across the South East. The continued dedication of London Care teams to clients in the area has made an inspiring difference to their lives.

Firstly, the Raynes Park branch received the following feedback shortly after one of their service users sadly recently passed away:

“Thank you so much for the beautiful floral display in memory of my Aunt.

“I fully appreciate all the care and support given to my aunt over the years. Without your kindness and dedication, it would have been difficult for her to continue to be cared for in her own home. It was her greatest wish – and indeed mine and her family’s – for my aunt to remain in her own home and spend her final days there. Thanks to you all, that was achieved.”

A few days earlier, the Rochester team were also contacted by the family of one of their service users to express their appreciation for one particular member of the team – Heidi:

“I have received a call from the nurses to say that they will be taking over dad’s care. I have requested that they remain with yourselves for as long as possible, this is due to Heidi and the wonderful relationship that she has built with Dad, she is the only one that has taken the time to get to know him and talk to him.

“When Heidi comes in, he lights up, he will always try and eat for her when everyone else fails. This lady is the very definition of caring where as others it’s just a job. The last thing I want to do is to deprive my dad of the one small bit of joy he has left.”

When another support service steps in to comment on just how effective our staff are, it’s always a huge compliment. Rhys Davies from the Complex Care Team at the Royal Borough of Greenwich had this to say about one member of the Crayford team:

“I just wanted to let you know that the carer Miriam from London Care has been very supportive of my client and has gone the extra mile. She has been always willing to adapt her hours to meet the needs of client and ourselves and communicates well with us. She has a positive relationship with him and has been great.”

Finally, Magda also asked to send a special congratulations to Sussana Ansah – who recently took over the branch manager role in Crayford branch following her successful CQC interview. Well done Sussana!

Thank you to everyone working hard to support our vulnerable clients across the UK, but particular congratulations to these teams an individuals who have made such a big impact.

Mental Health Awareness Week 10th – 16th May

Mental Health Awareness Week takes place next week, and this year’s theme is nature.

The Mental Health Foundation started the annual event 21 years ago with the aim of getting people to have conversations about mental health and the things in our daily lives that affect it.

Why nature is this year’s theme

During the pandemic, millions of us turned to nature. The Mental Health Foundation’s, research on the mental health impacts of the pandemic, showed going for walks outside was one of our top coping strategies and 45% of us reported being in green spaces had been vital for our mental health.

What you can do

Here are some ways you can connect with nature to support your mental health during Mental Health Awareness Week:

  • Experience nature: take time to recognise and grow your connection with nature during the week. Why not use the Nature Journal here to help you document how you feel about nature and your mental health. Click here for top tips on connecting with nature.
  • Share nature: Take a photo, video or sound recording and share the connections you’ve made during the week, to inspire others.

Talk about nature: discuss with your family, colleagues and community how you can help encourage people to find new ways to connect with nature in your local environment

Care Heroes Awards: Lifetime Achievement Award

This week we’re celebrating our Lifetime Achievement Award. This award recognises a care or support worker who has been employed continuously for ten or more years and has demonstrated great commitment to the highest standards of care support.


Winner: Abiola Abbati – London Care, East London

Delivering care through the coronavirus pandemic has not been an easy task for any of our dedicated staff. But, at a sprightly 78 years young, not even COVID-19 could stop Abiola! A dedicated member of the London Care team since 2003, Abiola continues to deliver fantastic care to all of her service users despite everything that’s happened over the last 12 months.

When the pandemic hit, Abiola refused to stop working, saying “I need to look after my service users, they need me”. Furthermore, even Abiola’s family couldn’t get in the way of her dedication to those she cares for. They contacted her manager to ask of Abiola could take a break during the pandemic – but Abiola chose to continue looking after her service users anyway, who all appreciated how much she was doing for them. One service user’s daughter even commented, “I am so grateful for Abbi, my mum would be dead if it wasn’t for her”.

Our judges were stunned by Abiola’s commitment, with one saying: “She refused to stand down during covid at the grand age of 78 years; she was thinks of others before herself and has clearly delivered a professional and high standard of care. Seventeen years is a huge achievement and demonstrates so much commitment to her profession.”

Another fed back, “Age is no barrier! Well done Abiola, she is a model example to us all. She clearly enjoys her work, is very committed and care about people, and I’m delighted she still continues to make such an impact on service users’ lives.”

Congratulations to our finalists

A huge well done to our other finalists this year – Carrie Prince from Sagecare Squires Gate and Violet Hare from the Guardian Homecare team in Devon.

Carrie and her family have had far from the easiest time recently. After her husband unfortunately had a sudden stroke and ended up in hospital, Carrie was 100% sure she would have to give up the job she loves and her service users to support her husband full time. However, alongside supporting her husband’s recovery however, Carrie has committed to finding time to continue seeing the service users she cares so much about.

Despite everything that’s happened, Carrie’s regional manager told us, “She is always a breath of fresh air. Carrie has been an absolute pleasure to work with for both the company and her service users. Carrie has so many ‘good news’ stories, it is hard to pick one example. This company needs more staff like Carrie. We would be lost without her as would her colleagues and service users.”

When nominating Violet Hare, Katie Jewell told us that “Violet is the fittest 65 year old the team know!” Since 2002 she has been working fulltime and walking her run come any weather conditions. Through the snow in 2018 to the flooding in 2019, Violet has never failed to reach her clients and provide the fantastic care she is renowned for.

Violet has demonstrated a lifetime of caring for other and putting her clients first in all circumstances. In recent months, Violet has shown huge commitment and dedication to her clients – and City & County – by increasing her hours to cover clients during the COVID-19 pandemic. She even gave up her days off to support another area when their staff had to shield. Katie finished by saying, “Violet continues to walk the miles needed to do her job, we hope she continues for many more years, she is amazing!”

A huge well done to each and every one of our winners and finalists.

Vaccines for anyone aged over 42

Our care workers have been able to obtain a COVID-19 vaccination for some time now, but this week it was announced that everyone over 42 years of age is now eligible and can book their jabs directly via the National Booking Service.

Whether you are a care worker or over 42, or both, there should be no obstacle to your getting your vaccine. If you haven’t already been able to get one through work or your GP, you can book your appointment directly here.

We encourage everyone offered a vaccine to have one, subject to individual clinical advice.

Stress Awareness Month – April

Stress Awareness Month is held every April, to increase public awareness about both the causes and cures for stress.

This year, more than ever, millions of us around the UK are experiencing high levels of stress and it is damaging our health. Stress is a significant factor in mental health problems including anxiety and depression. It is also linked to physical health problems like heart disease, problems with our immune system, insomnia and digestive problems.

It is so important that we take time to think about what is causing us personal stress and then look for ways to help reduce our stress levels.

Here are some ideas to help you take the first steps on a stress awareness journey.

30-day challenge

Attached is a 30 day challenge on stress awareness, created by Able Futures, which gives you 30 little things you can try to help you relax, connect with positive distractions and look after yourself so that you may feel a little more able to cope with the impact of stress.

It take 30 days to turn actions into habits. The 30-day challenge will maximise your chance of turning useful knowledge and techniques into positive behavioural changes. Why not start today!

Stress Management Society

The organisers of Stress Awareness Month offer a range of resources from individual stress tests to free stress guides. Click here to visit their website.

Contract wins for Abacare

Despite the pandemic, our Bids and Contracts team are hard at work securing new contracts across the country for City & County. We’re very pleased to confirm two recent success in Wales for Abacare.

Firstly, there’s a brand new Extra Care scheme in Denbighshire, called Awel Y Dyffryn. It’s a new build and we’re excited to be able to shape the services as Abacare. Big thanks to Nicky Tucker, Neil Griffiths, Nicola Brown and Paul Dougherty – as well as everyone else involved in the hard work on this bid.

Secondly, we’ve also secured a zoned block contract in Caerphilly of approximately 300 hours a week after a mini competition caused by a provider failure. Thanks again to Nicky Tucker as well as Caroline Jones and Samantha Price for their work on this successful bid.

Birthday celebrations for Jane at ICCM

Finally, Cat Saxon at ICCM let us know about a big celebration at their office last week. Cat told us, “Jane Taylor our Head of Practice turned 50, so we spoilt and surprised her with a decorated office, some beautiful flowers, a gorgeous Radley handbag and some Hugo Boss earrings.”

Cat continued, “Jane started with us last June after HSG Complex Care merged with ICCM and we wanted to show her that she’s really part of the team and help her celebrate this big birthday.”

Happy Birthday Jane, we hope you had a wonderful day.