Aug 17

Castle scale the heights

Posted: 29 August 2017

Skills for Care's National Minimum Data Set for Social Care reveals that 98% of employers in our sector employ 250 people or less. That always makes the Best employers of between 51 and 249 employees category at our annual Accolades awards a fiercely contested one.

Debbie O’Brien, Registered Manager at Castle Supported Living, looks back at a challenging, but rewarding, experience when her Clitheroe based organisation decided to throw their hat in the ring.

Entering the Skills for Care Accolades at the beginning felt like a challenge. This was the first time we had entered and we were unsure about what might be expected. Working through the application form made us take the time to stop and think about all the good work we had been doing (and helped us think up a couple of extra ideas for the future too).

Co-production is at the heart of our values and we were thrilled to learn that we would be visited to have the opportunity to showcase everyone’s work. This was when we all began to feel excited and all worked as a team to decide what we would show the verifier. People from our co-production team were really pleased to welcome the verifier, chat to him, and talk about the good work. It was lovely to hear all the positive descriptions of the service. The excitement was definitely building.

We were amazed to learn that we had been shortlisted for a national accolade – Best Employer of between 51 and 249 people.  When we saw our name on the Skills for Care website we were so proud. As we began to share information about the glittering award ceremony we could all feel the swell of pride. There was a real buzz! Employees and people who use the service volunteered to attend the awards and it was so difficult to choose our representatives.

Having two complimentary places at the awards ceremony meant that as a small company we could still afford to enjoy the celebrations as a group. The lead up to the event was full of chatter about what the evening would be like, what to wear, who we would meet and planning to be part of the glitzy event.

It was an amazing night of celebration for our group of support staff, office staff, people who use services and managers. One of our employees Robert said “I really enjoyed the night, especially being up on the stage receiving the certificate”.  Another person said “After 20 years working for the organisation I felt privileged to have such an experience”. It was an honour to be part of such an atmospheric celebratory night. The opening by Dance Syndrome really set the scene and got everyone in the party mood.

When our name was announced we were all in absolute shock, soon followed be delight, then all had wobbly legs walking up to the stage. It was uplifting to receive personal acknowledgements and congratulations on the night and see them arriving on Twitter. It definitely made all of the work so worthwhile.

Following the event the winning of the Accolade has been the subject of discussion and pride. We have made a collage and a glittering frame to display the certificate. The photographs and the winner’s logo have featured in our newsletter, annual report and we have made a collage for our office wall. We have had so many congratulations and acknowledgements in our local town, regionally and nationally and through social media.

The last year has been a roller coaster of emotions and our clear message to anyone thinking about entering would be take the time and be part of it join the Accolades experience. Looking back we had no idea we could be winners. The whole experience is such a fantastic opportunity to celebrate all that is positive in social care. 

Debbie O’Brien, Registered Manager, Castle Supported Living

 Is this your time to shine? The Accolades are open to adult social care organisations of all sizes and individual employers in England.

The closing date for entries is Thursday 21 September 2017.

Find out more about our accolades awards.