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CARE HEROES AWARDS SHORTLIST: Home Care Hero (Team), sponsored by CarePlanner

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This category, sponsored by CarePlanner, honours the care professionals who pulled together as a team to not only ensure the safety of their clients, but also to support each other’s wellbeing during a time of crisis.

From launching a Rapid Response service to support their local authority, to introducing a Take Your Boss to Work day, this category celebrates strength in numbers.

The finalists are:

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Allied Healthcare (Colchester)

The Allied Healthcare Colchester branch went above and beyond for their clients, care workers and the local community during the pandemic. A stand-out initiative introduced during the crisis was the Take Your Boss to Work Day, which enabled the branch manager to fully understand the challenges care workers face to ensure their clients receive quality care.

This initiative was well received and proved beneficial for both staff and management. After completing a Take Your Boss to Work Day, the branch manager wrote a diary entry about how she felt, what challenges she faced and the obstacles she overcame. The diary entry was then posted on the branch’s Facebook page and company website, contributing to promoting the role of a care worker.

In addition to providing care, employees collected client’s prescriptions, so they didn’t need to leave the house for their medication. The team also supported food parcel donations and collections, and games were distributed to vulnerable adults. For one adult who was struggling with no longer accessing the community, the team gathered wool donations. The client then knitted blankets, which were then donated to the local nurseries. The client felt she had a purpose in the pandemic, as her work was valued greatly by the nurseries.

Technology also played a role in supporting clients who required specialist equipment. As Occupational Therapists (OTs) could not go into the client’s properties, Allied Healthcare employees arranged zoom calls with the client so that the OT could carry out a virtual assessment. The branch then liaised with the OT to arrange for the equipment to be delivered to the client.

In the event of staff absences during pandemic, the branch put a contingency plan in place. All employees, including branch staff, completed the Care Certificate Training so everyone in the office team could provide care if the care visits needed covering.

Bluebird Care (Campden and Hampstead)

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March, the Bluebird Care Camden and Hampstead team jumped into action and adapted quickly. They worked tirelessly to make sure Public Health England guidelines were followed and that the health and safety of the entire workforce and customers was at the forefront.

The office team immediately transformed the work space to minimise the spread of infection.  It also opened seven days a week to provide increased support for their care team and customers during those uncertain times.  

The team has also introduced RAG (Red, Amber, Green) reporting, which has benefited customers throughout the pandemic. These scores are discussed in weekly meetings, which are integral to adapting and reacting quickly to any changes in a client’s health or wellbeing.

No employees at the branch, or any customers, have tested positive for COVID-19 and the team has worked even closer with the local clinical commissioning group to make sure it is supporting those at greatest risk and in greatest need.

The team achieved a second consecutive Outstanding from the CQC in January this year, and the branch is still the best-rated home care and live-in provider in the whole of North London.

Another big achievement is that not one member of the office team has left the organisation.

The team strives for continual learning, development and improvement. Even during the pandemic, two of the team achieved their level five in health and social care, with another three working hard towards achieving theirs. By the end of this year, the branch is set to have 50% of the team with level five qualifications in health and social care.

Eidyn Care

Edinburgh-based Eidyn Care told the story of a ‘miracle COVID couple’ in its Care Heroes nomination. During the height of the pandemic, Client A returned home to be reunited with his wife following a prolonged stay in hospital after suffering serious burns. Client A had contracted COVID-19, but both he and his wife have dementia and the thought of the him returning to hospital to potentially die alone is not something Eidyn wanted to advocate. Following discussions with the family, it was decided to keep the couple at home together.

As the days passed, Client A suffered badly with COVID-19 and passed it onto his wife. Eidyn Care began to prepare for the worst and worked with district nurses to make the couple as comfortable as possible.

Client A deteriorated to such a degree that he needed equipment to be able to care for him in bed. The couple had been married for over 50 years and would fall asleep holding hands every night. It was deemed cruel to split them up into separate rooms, so it was decided to install two hospital beds so they could sleep together.

The team also worked with district nurses to establish a skin routine that would minimise the risk of Client A’s skin breaking down, including his pre-existing leg burns.

To minimise the anxiety for both clients and their family, a dedicated WhatsApp group was set up for the caregivers that allowed effective communication about the clients’ condition and how the team was responding to this. Adequate PPE was also sourced and no cross-contamination took place.

After nearly a month, Client A began to feel better, followed a few days later by his wife. The couple slowly built up their strength and in May the team managed to take a picture of them both sitting up in a chair, eating and smiling with their carers.

Good Oaks Home Care (Reading and Newbury)

Monitoring the development of COVID-19 in early 2020, it was clear to the owners of Good Oaks Home Care (Reading and Newbury) that hospitals would need as much help as possible to keep functioning. One of the first responses that the provider implemented was therefore to create a Rapid Response Team to support the NHS and the local authority in their COVID response. This team facilitated rapid hospital discharges, often within hours of initial referral, in a safe and responsive manner.

This meant that people at the end of their lives could die with dignity in the home they loved, with the people who loved them by their side.

The team and the wider service continued to run despite sickness throughout the organisation, including the owner having to live and work in the office on her own while her sister (and company co-owner) recovered from COVID-19 in the home they shared. Carers and office teams supported each other with supplies and food parcels, and stepped up to keep the service running uninterrupted. The company owners even did the shopping for staff who were self-isolating, leaving supplies on their door step and texting them to let them know they had been delivered.

The company’s cloud-based care management system enabled families to access care records remotely, which was a source of reassurance and relief for families unable to visit their loved ones.

The team also facilitated zoom and skype calls between loved ones with tablet computers, so they could talk face-to-face, and this made a huge difference people’s mental health during an incredibly difficult and stressful time.

Right at Home (Solent)

The office team at Right at Home Solent have gone above and beyond to ensure staff have felt cared for, so in turn, their clients have felt safe and supported. This includes the office manager – who is a mental health first aider – holding daily wellbeing calls with carers; enlisting yoga teachers and fitness instructors in the local area to provide weekly wellbeing classes online; opening the office at the weekend so staff could collect their PPE; and sourcing complementary items for carers to ease their concerns, such as special bags to keep their visors in.

The team is always striving to make special memories for its clients and during the lockdown, they pulled out all the stops to help their 100 year-old customer (pictured) mark her birthday in style. Staff surprised her with a socially-distanced outdoor celebration with flowers, presents and a cake, and organised for video messages from her sporting heroes, including Judy, Andy and James Murray.

Community has always been at the heart of everything the team at Right at Home Solent do. Prior to the pandemic, they ran a free coffee club for members of the community; lending their office space free of charge to local charities, including Solent Mind and the British Heart Foundation.

Whilst juggling the challenges of the pandemic, co-owner Amy Popat was committed to seizing the opportunity to make a difference in the wider Right at Home network and, following the Black Lives Matter movement, she formed Right at Home’s Equality and Diversity Panel, which she is currently chairing and has already made great strides in this role.

To view the full list of Care Heroes Awards finalists, click here.

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Sarah Clarke

The author Sarah Clarke

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