Flood warnings issued

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

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

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

A big birthday at Custom Care

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

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

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

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

Thursday 4th February is Time to Talk Day – a day when everyone is encouraged to have a conversation about mental health.

Time to Talk Day is run by Time to Change to help spread the word that you can talk about mental health anywhere – including at work.

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

Activities for your team

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

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

Here are some ideas to get you started:

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

Sensory support for people with dementia

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

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

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

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

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

And, we’re back…Happy New Years and here’s to enjoying a better one than the last.

Critical worker guidance amended for school attendance

The Government has recently updated its guidance on which jobs count as ‘key worker’ roles, clarifying that the following are key workers:

–          Care workers

–          Other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers

–          Support and specialist staff required to maintain the health and social care sector

This means that everyone employed in City & County remains a key worker.

The changes were announced after schools raised concerns about too many children remaining in school under the latest lockdowns. The new guidance confirms that children with at least one parent or carer who is a key worker can go to school or college if required. Parents and carers have, however, been asked to keep their children at home if they can.

If you’re a CCH employee in need of a letter confirming your key worker status, please speak to your branch manager or HR.

Hana volunteers to tackle COVID-19

We found out this week that a member of our HR team, Hana Dedman, has volunteered to administer COVID-19 vaccinations. Following an intensive training schedule, we’re pleased to announce that Hana is now ready to fight the coronavirus pandemic with St John Ambulance. Hana told us why she chose to sign up:

“I chose to volunteer to administer COVID-19 vaccines and become part of the National program during this pandemic, for a few reasons. Firstly, there is a clear and genuine need for people to help, but also a feeling that I wanted to support our local community to try to help. In addition, I feel passionate about helping the NHS in any way I can, due to the excellent care given to my Father during his battle with his heart condition and subsequent care he received. Sadly, we lost my Father a few years ago, however I am sure my helping, would have made him proud.

“Since joining City & County in January 2020, I have witnessed our care workers dedication in supporting the vulnerable ensuring we deliver our care packages successfully and appreciate how hard they work in difficult circumstances.

“I came to realise that without the support of volunteers and speedy administering of this life saving vaccine, there would be significant delays causing health issues and further hardships on businesses, people’s livelihoods and most importantly, being able to see our family and friends again.

“Signing up as a volunteer with St John Ambulance who are working in partnership certainly wasn’t an easy task to say the least, there were a series of assessment with a pass rate 80% and a full day’s training too. Looking forward to getting started.”

Well done Hana, you’re going to make a huge impact on the lives of those you vaccinate – as well as their friends, families and colleagues. You can find out more about volunteering with St John Ambulance to make a difference during the pandemic here.

Battling the elements in Stirling

Mathew Green, Registered Manager at SCRT Homecare, got in touch today to express his gratitude to two members of the team in Stirling.

Following the extremely cold weather and heavy snow in the area, two of the branch’s dedicated coordinators braved the harsh weather to make sure that service users got the care they needed. Mathew told us:

“Massive thanks to Branch Coordinators Shannon Murray and Kimberley Boyd for the Stirling branch, who were fast-acting this morning to help carry out care calls due to the snow and ice. Both had to abandon their car and walk through the ice and snow to get to our most vulnerable service users.”

Thanks to you both. It’s amazing to see just how committed our teams are to supporting vulnerable service users across the UK.

MOTs and lockdown

You may remember that during the lockdown last spring, MOT centres were closed and that the expiry dates of existing MOT certificates were extended. During current lockdowns however, the Government has confirmed that vehicle MOT centres can stay open in all areas of Great Britain.

As a result, there will be no extensions in the current lockdown. If you own and rely on a vehicle, please don’t forget to book an MOT as normal if it’s due.

Free carbon monoxide awareness webinars

The Gas Safe Charity is offering free, on line carbon monoxide awareness Zoom workshops, aimed at anyone who visits or works in the homes of vulnerable people.

The workshop lasts about an hour and explains the sources, signs and symptoms of high and low level carbon monoxide risks in the home and includes relevant scenarios to explain what steps to take if carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected.

Sessions are available from January through to March. You can find out more information and book your place here.

Vaccinations underway at our Extra Care schemes

We’re pleased to confirm that COVID-19 vaccinations are now taking place at some of our Extra Care schemes. We received the photos below today from Bristol Court in Hounslow, where service users and staff have started to receive their jabs.

So far, more than 100 people at the scheme have been vaccinated. We’ll bring you more updates on how the vaccination programme is reaching our teams and service users across the UK over the coming weeks.

Thanks to our Extra Care teams in Stoke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Masterful achievement for Sarah Kwofie

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

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

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

Floral thanks for our Comfort Call staff

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

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

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

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

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

Recognition from Lancashire County Council

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas raffle raises cheer

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

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

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

Great work everyone, those hampers look fantastic.

Homecare Day 2020 – Wednesday 9th December

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

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

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

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

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

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

LifeWorks – Prize Draw Winners!

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

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

The lucky winners have now been contacted and they are:

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

Well done to the winners – enjoy spending your voucher!

Praise for Paulette at London Care

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

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome to our new branch managers

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

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

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

We look forward to getting to know you all.

Recognition from Care Inspectorate Wales

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

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

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

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

A thank you to Marie at Comfort Call

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Considerate coordination recognised at Sagecare

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

The family wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

Marking Remembrance Day at Leaholme

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

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

Appreciation for our team at Willow Barns

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

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

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

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

Flowers for dedicated Delia

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

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

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

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

Debt management – four steps to reduce your debt

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

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

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

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

New contract wins

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key facts:

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

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

A new home for Athena Care

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

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

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

Uber Eats and Care Provider Alliance discounts for care workers

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

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

A thank you for Advance Healthcare UK’s angels

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

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

“Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

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

Thank you for sharing Lorraine.

Recognition for social care staff from the NHS in Leeds

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We cannot do this without you.”

Raising spirits in extra care

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

Mental health and money worries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next Week – Debt Management

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

Care Quality Commission State of Care report published

The Care Quality Commission has published its annual report on the state of health care and adult social care in England during 2019-20.

Inevitably, the report highlights weaknesses in the system highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic, lending further weight to the argument for a viable long-term funding settlement for adult social care.

You can read the report here.

Max Wurr appointed
vice-chair of the UKHCA

 

We’re pleased to announce that Max Wurr, our own Director of Policy and Communications, was last week appointed Vice-Chair of the United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA).

 

UKHCA is the home care sector’s professional association, of which City & County Healthcare Group is one of the largest members. Their Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer and Honorary Secretary are elected from the UKHCA’s fourteen non-executive directors, who each serve for a period of three years.

Thanks to the Comfort Call team at St Andrews house

Geraldine Dunne, Team Leader at the St Andrews House Extra Care scheme in Nottingham, received a heartfelt message from the family of a service user this week. After recently moving into the scheme, the service user was taken into hospital and sadly diagnosed with a serious, previously unseen condition. Her diagnosis meant that the service user needed to move to end of life care.

The Comfort Call team at St Andrews House worked closely with the hospital to make sure she would be allowed to return back to the scheme that she now called home. The service user’s sister, who travelled from Kent to be with her, had these wonderful words for the team at St Andrews House:

“A special thank you to you and your staff for the care you gave to my dear sister. Although you did not know her well, you’ve treated her with such kindness and respect during the time she was with you.

“Also, how kind and considerate you were to us her family. You were real friends to us right up to the end. I have been telling everyone what a wonderful place St Andrew’s is.

“Good luck and good health for the future to you all.”

Crucially, under the dedicated care of the team, her family had an opportunity to spend some valuable time at her side – something they would not have been able to do in a hospital.

City and County acquires Advance Healthcare UK Limited

It is with great pleasure that we announce that on 8th October we completed the purchase of Advance Healthcare UK Limited (AHUK). AHUK is a homecare business providing a range of care services – including domiciliary care, Extra Care, prison services and daycare.

AHUK is based in the West Midlands and operates 10 Extra Care schemes, as well as delivering homecare packages for a number of Local Authorities in the area. In addition, our purchase of AHUK will help build City & County’s presence in daycare and introduce our brand to prison services. AHUK is well-respected in the market for the quality of its care, with 100% ‘Good’ CQC inspection ratings.

AHUK fits our strategy to acquire community care businesses to which we can add our financial and technical resources to help their growth. AHUK’s services will help further strengthen City & County’s position as the UK’s leading homecare provider.

Ambulance crew say thanks to our Ulverston Branch

Emma Cooper, one of our registered managers, received an inspiring email this week recognising three amazing care workers from HSG’s Ulverston branch. The crew were called to the home of a service user earlier this month, and were thoroughly impressed by the professionalism of the HSG team, writing:

 

“We would just like to say a massive thank you to the staff who were with the patient that night and went above and beyond for him. The compassion, dedication and professionalism demonstrated by the staff was outstanding so much so that it took us back.

 

“The staff could not have done enough for the patient and they were willing to sit with him in his final hours through the night if they had to. This complete act of selfless kindness deserves recognition as it is rare to see a group of people so dedicated to their work as they were. Job well done guys.”

Emma told us, “These three carers – Tim Balchin, Nicola Henry and Chloe Cunliffe – went above and beyond for the service user in his final hours”.

Rating success for The Windings scheme

Congratulations to team at The Windings Extra Care scheme in Cheshire West. The scheme has been rated ‘Good’ in all areas in its first draft report.

Scott Higgins-Wright, Regional Manager – Central, would like to say special thank you to the scheme manager, Maxine, and to Kim Nicholson for the support they gave.

A huge ‘well done’ to everyone who helped with this inspection.

Considerate care in a crisis

We were contacted this week by Ross McCrann, branch manager for Guardian Homecare, about a heartfelt complement the Preston team had received from the family of a service user. The message was in response to the exceptional crisis care delivered from the branch, and in particular the dedication of care worker Joanne Collins:

“Please could you pass on our heartfelt thanks for the wonderful care my mother in law has received whilst under crisis. I am very grateful for how well the team have respected her dignity, rights and provided a high standard of care.

“I have worked in care all my life including management of a care home, currently as a manager of care assessors and trainers, and unfortunately have seen first-hand what poor care looks like, but have only witnessed good compassionate care from the staff at Guardian.

“I would like to make a special mention to Joanne, she gave lovely supportive care when my mother in law wasn’t herself. The following day Joanne ensured she left me a message so I would know how my mother in law was, this continuity was very important as it helped me identify a change in her health and behaviour.

“Joanne has taken the time to get to know my mother in law and us her family. Again thank you for the fantastic care given.”

Amazing work by Joanne and the team in Preston.

Praise for the Comfort Call Gloucester team

Nicola Johnson, Branch Manager at Comfort Call in Cheltenham, wanted to share an amazing message she’d received this week. The family of a client contacted the branch to recognise the exceptional care that the Gloucester Team had delivered to their mother:

“How can I begin to thank you for all you did for my mum over the last few months? We could not have continued to care for her at home without you and it was very important to us that she stayed with her family at this difficult time. You were always cheerful, compassionate and professional in your conduct and we loved having you in our home. I am sorry we cannot thank you personally or say goodbye.

“You did so much more than just give her cold water – you treated her as kindly as if she was your own mum!

“Thank you on behalf of all the clients and families you continue to serve. You may never know the full impact and value of what you do, but I hope you feel pleased and proud that you are doing a great job!”

Thank you to everyone for the great work you’re doing to improve the lives of our service users and their families.

10th October is World Mental Health Day

Mental health problems can affect anyone, any day of the year, but 10 October is a great day to show your support for better mental health and start looking after your own wellbeing.

If you know someone who may be struggling with mental health, it can be difficult to know what to do, or if you are a sufferer yourself, it can be even harder to know who to turn to.

Don’t forget that our mental health is just like our physical health – everybody has it and we need to take care of it.

Helping others

If you’re worried about someone and unsure how to help, here are 3 top tips:

  1. Don’t be judgemental – try  to understand their situation
  2. Speak to them – be a listening ear and allow them to open up
  3. Get prepared – know what to do in a crisis

Please visit the World Mental Health campaign website for more information and resources.

Recognition for our Comfort Call team in Tameside

We were contacted this week by Joanne Brannen, Regional Manager – North West and West Yorkshire, about some amazing news she’d received from Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council. Tameside, along with Greater Manchester Health & Social Care Partnership, had been shortlisted for the prestigious National HPMA awards.

The shortlisting was for the The University of Bradford award for cross-sector working, and recognised a pilot scheme which the Comfort Call branch was instrumental in setting up. The team at Tameside was very pleased to confirm that the scheme had won the award.

Dave Wilson, manager of the Tameside commissioning team, said; “I wanted to say a huge thank you for your work. You should all be very proud of this.”

Dave continued, “This will be a proper achievement and something that, already, other authorities are looking at doing and are asking us for advice. Well done Comfort Call and thank you very much for being so fab to work with.”

Congratulations to everyone involved.

Flu vaccine update

Owing to the level of demand, supplies of the seasonal flu vaccine are being delayed. It is important, however, that as many people as possible have the vaccine this year, so we urge you to keep checking with your pharmacist or GP and to get your jab as soon as you can.

Public Health Wales has confirmed that in line with the other UK nations, home care staff in Wales are eligible for the flu vaccine free of charge from community pharmacies.

A thank you to staff at Bowles Lodge

Magda Trepczynska, Regional Manager – South, has been in touch to pass on some wonderful feedback from the family of a service user. The resident of the Bowles Lodge Extra Care scheme in Kent had sadly contracted Covid-19, and her family had nothing but praise for the team’s response:

“I just wanted to give some feedback over the unprecedented last few months. The care that mum has received has been excellent, you and your staff have gone over and above in meeting the needs of the residents. Undertaking shopping, keeping supplies and increasing calls have all ensured her welfare. Thank you for the support, and helping the relatives and carers like myself to step back in order to protect during the pandemic knowing our loved ones are safe.

“Once again huge thanks and hoping the next few months will see life get back to a more normal.”

Amazing feedback, and the team have clearly made a huge impact for this family during the pandemic.

A poem about mental health

Following our article on mental health awareness last week, Gail Hodgkinson from our central recruitment team got in touch to share a poem, Samaritan, she’s written on the subject.

Gail told us, “In support of mental health week, and in view of the effect the current pandemic is having on so many, please find a short poem I wrote some years back. I hope it reaches out.”

Samaritan

The lifeless eyes were cold, yet bright,

She really didn’t want to die tonight,

She dialled the number “please talk me down”,

The unsung soldier was always around

The volunteer that came in peace,

For all he could offer was a release,

To talk it through, ‘til it made sense,

To give her fear less credence.

He helped to dry up all those tears,

A culmination of years and years,

With mug of tea in wise old hand,

The unlikely hero from tank top land,

But tonight he may have saved a life,

A gentle ear, a shoulder wide,

So don’t under rate our distant friend,

Samaritans listen to the bitter end.

Thank you Gail, we hope the poem connects with anyone whose mental health and wellbeing has been affected by the pandemic. If you need to speak to someone, don’t forget it’s free to call Samaritans on 116 123 where you can get confidential support.

More contract success in Redcar and Cleveland

In addition to the successful Comfort Call bid in Redcar and Cleveland we reported last week, we’re pleased to confirm that the Careline Homecare have also retained their contract in the area. Alongside Comfort Call, the Careline team will continue to provide care in a new framework contract starting from November.

A huge ‘well done’ to the bid team and everyone in the local ops team who contributed to the bid and secured the contract.