COVID-19 Sector feedback

Share your COVID-19 challenges 

Help support the sector and complete our short survey!

Our survey is based on your experiences during past couple of months and the potential impact they might have on your service in the future.

We're sharing feedback with the Department of Health and Social Care regularly, and with other partners, as well as using the information we gather to inform our work to support the sector in the coming months. There are 10 questions to complete in the short survey service in the future.       

⇨  Start the survey 

This information will be combined with the data we capture through Adult Social Care Workforce Data Set (ASC-WDS) to give vital intelligence on what is happening across the country.

Tell us your story

We want to make sure that the vital work you’re carrying out is recognised and shared as widely as possible so others can learn from it. Share the outstanding work of your workforce this could be a best practice, innovation or evidence of the vital role of social care.

Send your stories to you MUST not exceed 200 words and include the following:

  • Organisation/service name
  • Location

Join our Twitter campaign! 

We're sharing the positive things happening every day in social care with the Twitter community.

Get involved by sharing a short video of your good news story using #socialcareisvital and @skillsforcare

Sector feedback stories... 

Good news story

First Kickstarters are raring to go

Hales Group is playing a crucial role in supporting young people into work through the Government’s Kickstart scheme.

In what has been an extraordinary year, thousands of young people have been faced with unemployment and a lack of job prospects, especially those coming straight out of full-time education. Hales Group recognised the scheme as an incredible opportunity to help young people back into the workplace or into their first role and has created 30 vacancies with 10 trainees already in post.

The £2billion Kickstart scheme, announced by the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, enables employers to offer six-month job placements for 16-24-year-olds at risk of long-term unemployment with support to employers towards the costs of recruitment and training.

Kate Parkington, Director of People Services, said “Hales Group is so pleased to be offering young people the chance to gain valuable work experience in our Homecare and Recruitment divisions as well as our Finance and Property teams.  And it allows us to bring young talent into our ranks, so it’s win-win!  Within the first month of the scheme going live, we have recruited ten people into the ranks and we are actively recruiting the other twenty vacancies.  We’re excited to provide unemployed people with an opportunity to carve a long term career and to see how they progress.  We are hoping to gain approval for additional roles including in our HR and Marketing teams following the initial success of the project, so we can help more young people in what they perceive to be a very bleak job market.”

New employee Ellie, who joined Hales Group’s Homecare division at the end of last month via the Kickstart Scheme said: “I’ve really enjoyed my first two weeks. I lost my job in hospitality and was feeling quite downhearted about my future. This placement has given me a confidence boost and some real hope that I can have a successful career.  I hadn’t ever thought about working in care but it’s an amazing feeling to be helping the most vulnerable people in our society. I’m thankful to Hales for offering me such an incredible opportunity and I would encourage anyone who is unemployed to ask their local Job Centre about this scheme”.

Good news story

City Care Partnership – Keeping connected throughout lockdown. 

City Care Partnership is an independent provider of specialist services for adults with learning disabilities and Autistic Spectrum Condition (with associated learning disabilities).

This year has been difficult for everyone, especially for the people they support, who are used to living active lives within their communities. At the beginning of lockdown they needed to move fast in order to provide individuals with that sense of belonging and community whilst staying safe at home. As with many others around the globe they turned to social media and technology.

They set up a City Care WhatsApp group named ‘WhatsUp’. The group has been used throughout the year to allow individuals to share pictures and videos with their friends within the service and receive responses in real time. The group is moderated by staff to ensure that it is used correctly and so that people are able to receive immediate responses to their posts. WhatsApp has been really useful in enabling them to communicate as they’re able to use video and audio for those individuals who struggle with written words, providing a much more inclusive environment. All services were provided with updated smart phones so that all individuals had access to the group. Staff members were also invited to promote parity.

Videos and pictures were taken from the group and collated into a weekly video which was then shared with friends and family so that they could keep in touch and see what everyone was up to. This received an amazing response and a number of family members gave very positive feedback.

As everyone became more familiar with the technology, they stretched this further creating a lockdown cookbook where people would share their recipes and photos. They’ve also used the group to host photography competitions where individuals can vote on their favourite image, art and craft competitions with accessible voting.

The group is now looking forward to their Christmas festivities. They have a 13ft communal Christmas tree outside their activity hub and people are able to book slots to add homemade decorations ready for the big light switch on which will be shared with everyone in a video extravaganza. Various other activities will be running on WhatsApp throughout the festive period, such as scavenger hunts, Christmas jokes and Makaton Christmas songs.

Laura Walter, Autism Lead and Project Manager at City Care Partnership, said:

“Although it has been a difficult year and we haven’t been able to spend time with our loved ones as much as we would like. Technology has played an integral part in keeping us together and staying safe.” 

Good news story

It’s the little things that matters in a Surrey care home

Like all residential care homes the team at Redcot in Haslemere have been working hard to support the wellbeing, mental and physical health of its residents, their families and staff during this unprecedented lockdown period.

Friends of the Elderly who run Redcot decided to create a new campaign, ‘It’s the little things…’ and is working with its homes to share the little things they have done – and are continuing to do – that have had a positive and meaningful impact.

The residents at Redcot have had enjoyable, fun-filled days with lots of safe activities and ongoing communications taking place. Highlights include the regular sing-along sessions, outside afternoons on the terrace with a socially distanced entertainer, Bill Clayton, and gardening time in the beautiful grounds which are surrounded by scenic countryside.

Residents have also been enjoying arts and craft sessions, quizzes and a wide range of other activities, plus the staff have been helping residents to make calls and FaceTime chats to their families and loved ones.

“’It’s the little things…’ is a creative two-way communication designed to keep residents, care home teams, their families and friends in touch while they are missing each other,” says Rosemary Naylor, the Charity’s Care Home Director.

“The platform allows them to express their own ‘little things’ as a way of sharing their love and affection and the little things that they missing that mean so much to them, albeit looking at photos, reading stories together or simply sitting, chatting and sharing a cup of tea.”

And it has worked as one family member said to the team: “We wholeheartedly support and appreciate what you have all done to care for Mum.”

One resident added: "This is my home now and I feel as safe as I did at my family home, if not a bit safer. There's always enough staff, they never seem rush and always have time to talk to me."

One of the care home’s most popular residents, Grace, has been at Redcot since 2017 and has made lots of friends since her arrival. But the lockdown meant that she was unable to physically see and have visits with her daughter, Christine, which upset her. The mother and daughter kept in touch during the lockdown isolation period via regular FaceTime calls, but it’s not been the same as seeing each other in person.

“When the restrictions on non-essential visits came in I was very concerned that I would not be with Mum. I was delighted when the team introduced Facebook Portal calls early in the lockdown period,” notes Christine, Grace’s daughter.

“I have been able to spend so much time with my Mum and she thinks I am in her room rather than just virtually on a screen. As there has been no limit to my sessions, other than bookings by other resident's families, it has meant our separation enforced by these unprecedented times has been eased.

“It is the little things that make all the difference. One day I was reminiscing on a portal call with Mum and staff about how much Mum enjoyed knickerbocker glory ice creams - within a few minutes staff produced one.

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Sheffield Foyer backs young people during lockdown

Sheffield Foyer is a supported housing scheme run by Guinness Care and they gave been supporting the young people they work with throughout lockdown.

The Foyer provides accommodation, training and support to young homeless people, aged 17-25, to enable them to live independently and safely, and help them eventually move on to their own tenancies and into employment.

Hayat, aged 22, who has been at the Foyer for 21 months said: “I feel like people are talking to the older people, families, those with houses and jobs, but they’re forgetting about those that are in accommodation like the Foyer, and I feel like we’re not getting enough information to know what the future holds."

Rachel, aged 21, who has been at the Foyer for 14 months and said: “At the beginning of lockdown I did feel quite safe as we had staff around us, and people to talk to us if we needed anything, but everywhere was empty and I felt a bit lonely on the planet. Now we’re easing out of it, it’s a lot better as I missed my mum, and being around family.”

Samantha Mobbs, Sheffield Foyer Manager said: “Although the Sheffield Foyer has been open during the lockdown it hasn’t quite been business as usual.

“There have been restrictions on communal areas and group activities, changes to visiting rules, and restrictions on when you can go out and who with.  It’s been very challenging, but for young single people in supported accommodation it can also be a lonely and scary time.

“However, the young people at the Sheffield Foyer have done marvellously well in keeping themselves and others safe by sticking to all the government guidelines, and they have been using what technology they have to keep in touch with family and friends. 

“Some have been working through lockdown at care homes and supermarkets and others have been keeping themselves busy with puzzles and quizzes put on by the Foyer staff team.  Many have been taking the opportunity to complete their in-house life-skills training and have proved that they are ready for independent living.

“I am very proud of how the young people at the Foyer have conducted themselves during these difficult times.”

Good news story

COVID-19: Stories of Promise for adult social care

 Think Local Act Personal have published Stories of Promise which a collection of the many positive and creative responses by communities, provider organisations and councils to the pandemic.

The stories will create a living legacy that inspires and informs the sector as we respond to the new realities of COVID-19. More stories will be added to this resource over the coming weeks.

Good news story

Emma had worked for the same retail store for 23 years but following redundancy decided she wanted to follow her dream job of caring for others.  

She was recruited to Unique Senior Care via Facebook, and the process started with a phone interview asking questions based on her values and caring nature.  Emma talked about personal experience of caring for family members and showed great care and empathy. 

A face to face interview via video call was then arranged with the Registered Manager for her area and another member of their support team. Video calls have been a fantastic tool during COVID-19 enabling Unique to meet their candidates virtually.

At interview Emma was asked set, values-based recruitment questions and scored by both interviewers. Emma was successful, so recruitment rang to offer Emma the position, and let her know she would complete our online induction. 

They also used video calls with Registered Managers once a caregiver is ready to start, and are used to further build a relationship, discuss availability and arrange shadowing.

For eLearning Unique have used My Learning Cloud, a Skills for Care endorsed provider. In addition to all the mandatory modules Emma attended a group supported learning session video call.  She met a in-house trainer who covered policies and procedures and gave everyone the chance to ask questions. Emma said this was ‘brilliant’ and ‘very informative’, she enjoyed being able to see other new starters joining the company.

Emma had completed shadowing and was feeling more confident and part of the team. Emma was given extra medication observations, care observations, support visits and moving and handling training to give her all the practical skills she required and fill the gap left around areas which would normally be practiced in face-to-face training.

Emma says the job is brilliant and she is loving it.  She was made to feel welcome on site and felt supported right through recruitment, training and on starting the job. It has been a big change after working at in retail for 23 years but she hopes to stay with Unique Senior Care for the next 23!

Emma did so well she received the dignity award for Ettington Lodge during her first month.

Unique have been using Indeed, Facebook, DWP website, and referrals from current staff who get refer a friend reward to thank them. 

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Good news story

Unique ice cream van keeps everyone cool at Upper Ford Lodge

Staff at Autism West Midlands residential home found some really innovative ways to keep people occupied during lockdown,

Residents living at Upper Ford Lodge in Worcestershirewere really missing going to the shops during lockdown so the staff team decided to set up their very own village shore on site.

The team converted a shed in the grounds of the residential home offering treats such as chocolate, drinks and magazines for the residents to buy.

They also did some learning around the importance of social distancing, and introduced a queuing system for customers waiting for the shop to open.

The team didn’t stop there and they made their own ice cream van, Staff drove the van playing loud music to the site and delivered delicious ice creams to help cool everyone down during the warm weather.

The feedback from the residents was positive helping them get through lockdown:

“It’s brilliant having the shop at Upper Ford Lodge this means I can get my can of raspberry Pepsi Max and my choice of chocolate bar as I can’t go to the shops at the moment because of the virus,” - Andrew

“I love the shop as it means I can buy a drink and snack, and just like normal shops it opens at set times, we also have an ice-cream van that plays the music and we can get ice-creams in the warm weather I can choose from the pictures on the window what I want!“ - Wayne

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Follow on social media:
@autismwestmids |

Good news story

Thank you packs for staff at Ashtree House 

Lisa Floyd, Registered Manager at Ashtree House In Lincolnshire, explains how she rewarded her staff and despite challenges in trying to do this has finally managed to show her appreciation by giving out 35 gift packs to her hard-working team.

“We send out regular newsletters in the May explaining what I wanted to do and a call out for donations.  Initially we had a great response - but the reality of coming up with the goods was a little less responsive. But thanks to family and friends, 35 ‘thank you’ packs (worth £100 each) were put together and given to staff.

“I would have loved to be able to increase the wages of all my staff, but as an owner operator of a single care home this is just not financially possible, so I wanted to express my appreciation in some form.  Many relatives are sending/delivering chocolates and fruit on a weekly basis instead of donating to the gift pack. 

“And I have an even better twist to the story.  I am not afraid to admit that I hit a huge brick wall last week and was struggling to cope on every level.  My team were well aware of this and gave me a huge bunch of flowers, a card and sent me home early - only to be called out on an emergency a few hours later - but again that is not the point! So I am not only supporting them, but they are supporting me as well, which is a great feeling.”  



Good news story

Guinness Care residents have puzzling fun while in lockdown   

To help ease the boredom during lockdown a member of staff from Guinness Care came up with a brilliant idea to keep residents who live in sheltered housing schemes in Exeter, Tiverton and Willand entertained.  
While making her regular phone calls to residents Chloe Burrow, who works as an Independent Living Adviser across the sheltered housing schemes, asked if they would be interested in having a jigsaw puzzle to complete while they are stuck indoors during lockdown. 
After getting a positive response from the residents Chloe asked the local community, via Facebook, if they had any old jigsaw puzzles they would like to donate, and she received 30 in the first week.  More followed and now Chloe has over 100 puzzles taking over her spare room and car boot! 
Andrew George from Exeter said: “It’s been fantastic having these puzzles to do, especially in the evenings. I find them relaxing.” 
Chloe Burrow, Independent Living Advisor at Guinness Care said: "I was inspired to create a jigsaw library after my colleague, Jackie Jones, had previously taken puzzles between our housing schemes. 
“Being able to deliver puzzles to the residents is becoming a really nice way to connect to them and it gives us something else to talk about on the phone each week when I call.  
“Together with Guinness’s Health & Safety team we have put good procedures in place, including social distancing, to ensure everybody stays safe during this difficult time.” 
To ensure the safety of the residents and staff each puzzle is rested unopened for seven days before being issued. Then right before delivery, the puzzle box is wiped down with alcohol-based sanitiser. Chloe wears PPE when doing this and she puts the puzzle into a single use plastic bag just before leaving it on the resident’s doorstep. 

Good news story

Step into Care

Ashley Garrod spoke of his very positive experience of participating in the Greater Manchester Career Hub ‘Step into Care’ Programme.  The programme was developed by the Career Hub in partnership with DWP, Skills for Care and The Workers’ Educational Association (WEA), who provided the online learning.  

I’m a recently graduated musician. I’m in multiple bands and was playing weddings, corporate events as well as organising my own gigs and touring with my original bands. Because of the pandemic, I lost all my work, I had no income, I had to cancel a tour and with no end in sight I was scared for the future.  

I was informed of a course through my local job centre, and whilst I’d never considered a job in care, I had a little experience from visiting my grandma in a care home, and from my mum who has worked in care for more than 20 years.  The course helped me in so many ways – it gave me a routine and a schedule to my day - a reason to get up and keep learning.   

Connecting with other people kept me sane and we were such a supportive group – everyone really helped each other - and so giving to others made the day feel worthwhile. I even made a video as to how to wash your hands to avoid infections and viruses being spread around. It was a bit silly, but it was great to be creative and make everyone smile. I really believe it has increased my resilience and made me stronger.  

I learnt so much on the courses. I have completed two accredited courses in Mental health and Stress Awareness, and I am well on my way to completing the Care Certificate - which will be part of my induction in my new workplace. I am currently undertaking three volunteer shifts and if I am good match at my placement it means I will have paid work, which is fantastic.  

Before the course I had never thought about how I could use my skills as a musician to make a difference in other people’s lives.  As part of my own development plan I am researching more into how music could help people with learning disabilities, mental health struggles, older people or people with dementia.  I feel like I can give more to communities now, and that I am also part of a community of amazing people who studied together during these difficult times.  I would say just go for it! Have faith in yourself that you can do it; the lovely people at the WEA and in your learning group will absolutely support you to succeed. I got so much out of it - confidence, new friends, even just a routine for me to structure my life around, and I’m sure you will too!  #AdultEducationWorks

@WEAadulted @GMCareersHub @GM_HSC (If you’re interested or we get famous - my bands are Sylvette | Ollie West and the Wildflowers)

Good news story

Harrogate and District Registered Managers Network offer vital support during the crisis

Susie Harrison, Registered manager at Highgate (United Response), and Chair of her local6 registered managers network, talks about network growth and the vital support it’s providing during this critical time.  Harrogate and District Registered managers network started in February 2019 and has grown significantly in the last 18 months with 50 Registered Managers in the network.    

Many managers across the district who felt somewhat isolated in their roles now feel like one big team pulling together- especially in these unprecedented times!   We have enjoyed meetings where we have had time to get to know each other knowing we are all in the same boat, facing the same obstacles and challenges in social care. We have invited guests to our meetings from NHS, CQC and Skills for Care to provide that expertise support and resources on areas such as medication, training, recruitment, managing staff.   

The feedback I get is that the group is so useful and supportive. At the moment we are obviously not meeting up,  but we have a WhatsApp group which is working brilliantly, and with the recent situation it has enabled managers feeling  anxious and stressed to get moral support, help from each other and sharing of PPE equipment across the district to ensure no one is without, pulling together to support our front line staff teams at such a critical time. We have even set up pen pal schemes between residents of different homes for those feeling socially isolated.  

We have started ZOOM meetings monthly which are working very well but look forward to when we can all get together in person again! 

Good news story

Sahara House uses technology to help residents celebrate Ramadan and Eid 

Staff at Sahara House in Ilford supported residents and colleagues to celebrate Ramadan and Eid together.  
“Ramadan” is a time of spiritual reflection, self-improvement, and heightened devotion and worship,” says says registered Manager Donna Obeng-Brempong, 
“During this uncertain time of Covid-19, this was to help Muslim residents to stay in touch with their religious root by providing digital technology to ensure they would not miss their call of prayer. Staff supported residents to pray at Sahara House as all the places of worship were closed.”  

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Follow Sahara Care:
Twitter: @Sahara_Care | 

Good news story

Future Directions CIC provide support to people with learning disabilities and other complex support needs across the north of England

They have used technological solutions to continue recruiting values-driven staff during the pandemic. Learning to use technology to hold interviews and online training have enabled the team to become more tech-savvy. So far a finance director, service transition manager and personal assistants have been recruited allowing business to the continue as normal. 
Technology cannot replace all face to face learning, so they have continued face to face induction throughout the pandemic, although at a lesser extent and with fewer inductees present.  
This induction is enhanced with video training, which benefits greatly from a ‘flipped classroom’ format in which inductees are given information before training to review so they can get the most from the video training. Online training has also continued using our My Learning Cloud platform. 
Future Directions are part of the I Care…Ambassadors initiative, helping to promote careers in care. Find out more about I Care…Ambassadors

Good news story

Logen is a home care hero 

When Logen gave up her pub job last year she didn’t expect to be working in a national pandemic but like so many other care workers she has met that challenge head on, 
Logen is now a home care assistant with Radfield Home Care Wakefield & Dewsbury, and she used her computing skills to help one of her clients cope with a family issue. 
 “My client Bettys’ sister-in-law passed away a few years ago and the family were upset that she never got to meet her great nephew, says Logen. “When I spoke to Betty about it, she was sad too, as she wished they had a photo together before she passed. I explained to Betty that there was something I could do to help.  
“So I edited a photo of her sister in law into a family photo so it looked like they were all together and I gave this to Betty. She was so happy, crying happy tears and couldn’t stop saying she wanted to hug me. 
“Betty was also very upset during one visit when she had been sorting her photo albums out for a few weeks, and said she felt like she was getting nowhere with them. I helped her organise them all, and get them all put away, so she felt more accomplished. She was so thankful and said I had lifted a huge weight off her shoulders.” 
 “Working for Radfield Home Care is more a way of life than a job - I don’t feel like I’m working when I’m visiting clients. It feels like a trip to a relative’s house. When you see their faces light up, that’s when it makes you realise that this is the right job to be in.”   
For Radfield this new worker with a big personality is a classic example of the sort of job changer they want to attract. 
 “Logen is a pleasure to have as part of our exceptional care team - she is a breath of fresh air,” notes Gemma Bristow, Radfield’s Registered Care Manager. 
“Logen came to us with no professional care experience, but took all her training on board very quickly, and soon developed in her role as a care professional. Logen is extremely competent, confident and colleagues really enjoy working alongside her.  
“This story clearly shows that she listened and understood the worries of her client, and has taken the initiative and done something extremely thoughtful and kind to cheer her up.” 

Good news story

Teddy bear staycation at the Cedars   

Registered Manager Gemma Clarke came up with the idea of a teddy bear staycation at the Cedars in Bulkington to do something fun for the people who live there during these uncertain times.  
The team decided that they would do a different theme every other week, and the second was the teddy bears on holiday, and they are now working on teddy bear keyworkers.  
The local community has taken a real shine to the teddy bear staycation and the Cedars has received lots of positive comments. Local children who walk past leave pictures they have drawn and coloured-in, which have been laminated and added to a banner outside.  
Everyone who lives at the Cedars has really enjoyed being part of the arts and crafts sessions making the display, and the staff team enjoyed the positive feedback from their community. 

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Good news story

Lockdown cooking at Carpenders Care

Moriam Odunsi, Registered Manager, Carpenders Care they support David in Pinner with outreach on Saturdays by taking him to various places of interest.  

During the lockdown, they instead decided to make various mouth watering dishes of his choice weekly!  
He is so happy and sends us pictures of what he made with his carer weekly. We would encourage others to do this to prevent boredom.

carpenders care  carpenders care brownie

Good news story

Stacey organises a very special dinner date 

Radfield Home Care Wakefield and Dewsbury have been caring for a very special client Colleen since September 2019 who has lots of friends and family around her that visit regularly.   

But like so many people the COVID-19 pandemic meant the visits from family and friends have ceased as Colleen’s support network were keen to follow social distancing guidelines to ensure she was kept safe and well. 

 “Our care professionals soon noticed and fed back that our client was not her usual cheerful self. She was understandably feeling lonely and isolated, they also noted that she was not eating as well as she usually did,” says Gemma Bristow, Radfield’s registered care manager. 

“Colleen explained that she was feeling a little down, and a bit lonely. and her appetite was not what it used to be. She also explained that she was missing having a friend or family member to sit down to eat a nice meal with explained that Stacey, a regular carer, had made something last week which she really enjoyed, a pasta dish of some sort.”  

Gemma contacted Stacey to ask if she could remember what it was she had prepared for her client that day so Stacey explained that it was a lasagne and Colleen had really enjoyed it. Gemma asked if Stacey would be willing to help us do something really nice for her client, due to her feeling down and lonely, suggesting for Stacey to visit and have a nice meal with her one evening, hopefully cheering her up.  

Stacey offered to prepare a home-made lasagne, garlic bread and salad to take to Colleen to enjoy with her and offered to do this in her own time. 

“I rang the client back to suggest this and she was delighted with Stacey’s kind gesture and said she would really enjoy it, thanking us for the offer and commenting, “recalls Gemma. “It will give me something to look forward to. Stacey and Colleen had a lovely meal together.”  

And it was a relaxed experience that was a welcome change from both Colleen’s and Stacey’s usual lockdown routine.  

 “Seeing a client upset or feeling down is concerning, the lockdown is having a huge impact on people's mental state, not having visits from family or friends,” notes Stacey.  

“To be able to do a little extra for a client is the best feeling.  Seeing Coleen laughing, smiling and engaging in a conversation is absolutely priceless. I do this job to make a difference to people's lives and I will always go the extra mile to achieve that.” 

Good news story

Future Directions record new song to help keep people safe 

Skills for Care Accolades winners Future Directions have recorded a new song, Stronger Together, showing people how to stay safe, and as a reminder that we are all stronger working together during lockdown. 

The song was written by Kevin Phoenix, one of Future Directions’ values led employees, and knows as their Music Man. It highlights the company’s values of going the extra mile, putting people first, transparency, adaptability, and creativity. 

The promotional video was shot at Stanley Grange in Samlesbury, Lancashire. where Future Directions provides supported living and residential services, 

 “What an amazing opportunity for the people we support and our teams to be involved in such a historical life-changing project.  We all had an amazing time and lots of fun in making this film - two metres apart of course!,” says Lorraine Chapman-Linnett, the Operational Network Manager for Stanley Grange. 

“We truly are stronger together and want to share this message with everybody near and far.  Let’s celebrate everybody within social care and the NHS, together we stand strong.” 

Good news story

Surprise pandemic ‘Survival Kits’ created for care team  

Radfield Home Care Wakefield and Dewsbury has been overwhelmed by the commitment and dedication shown by its care team since the Covid-19 outbreak,  

Jackie Gillen, owner and director of Radfield, and Gemma Bristow, registered care manager for the office, wanted to demonstrate to their staff just how much they are appreciated so came up with the idea of making ‘carer survival kits’ for all 31 members of the team. 

We really admire our dedicated team of care professionals; we felt many may be feeling quite isolated and anxious given the current circumstances, we wanted to do something to remind them all how much we appreciate everything they do,” says Gemma Bristow.  “We usually see staff regularly face to face as they always call into the office, but we are unable to do that at the moment, we just wanted to ensure they all know we are always thinking of them.” 

The survival kits were labelled individually for each member of staff and made up of little gifts representing all the great things they do as home care assistants.  The kits included: 

  • Mint - because you are worth a ‘mint’ to the people you care for and to us 
  • Candle - to brighten up your day when things get tough 
  • Safety pin - because you keep the people you care for ‘safe’ 
  • Playing card - to help you deal with any situation 
  • Paper clip - to help you hold everything together 
  • Coffee - to keep you awake during long shifts 
  • Sweets - because you have a big heart 
  • Elastic band - for when you are stretched to your limits 
  • Toothpick- to help you ‘pick’ the right words to say 
  • Crayon - to make each day bright and colourful 
  • Button - because you are always ‘right on the button’ 

The care team were delighted with their surprise survival kits with lots of positive comments made and posted on the office Facebook page.

The ’survival kit’ gift initiative is just one way Radfield Home Care continues to value its staff providing a supportive, positive working environment collectively referred to as its ‘Caring for Carers Pledge’. 

Follow Radfield Care:
@Radfieldcare |

Good news story

Overcoming COVID-19: Sue Ferry talks about getting back to work 

For carer and asthma sufferer Sue Ferry, who works at Dene Holm in Northfleet, the threat of contracting COVID-19 was a worry,  
“I was worried about COVID-19 as I knew I would be high risk, so when I started to feel unwell over Easter, I was concerned. I got home from an evening shift and felt lethargic, after going to bed, it hit me, the high temperature and the headaches were unbearable. I phoned work, and called 111, who advised me to isolate.” 
Sue tested positive for COVID-19, and as her condition worsened, she was taken to hospital with low oxygen where she spent two weeks. 
“Recovery was slow but when I returned to work, my team were fantastic. Two months ago, it felt like care homes were not acknowledged by the government, with regard to PPE and testing, everything took a long time. But now, we have all we need, and so I actually felt fine coming back to work.  
“Being at Dene Holm actually feels safe, as we are in our own bubble. We stopped accepting visitors quickly and the testing is now much better. 
“I have worked here for 16 years and as a team, we’re pulling together. We are upbeat, and morale is good. We have good and bad days, but we help each other through, as we’re all in it together.” 

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Children bring a smile to Crewe’s Pickmere Court  

Guinness Care staff called on local schoolchildren to keep residents living at Pickmere Court entertained when they were unable to leave their homes due to the coronavirus pandemic. 
Staff at the independent living development in Crewe contacted local schools to ask if children would like to write letters, poems or draw pictures for the residents.  
After a fantastic response from the schoolchildren and other children living in the area, Carly Sproston, who works as an administrator for Pickmere Court while working from home, has put them all together in a book ‘The Book of Smiles’, which has been gratefully received by all the residents. 
The residents, just like everyone else, have been feeling the effects of the lockdown measures, so staff have gone above and beyond their usual duties to ensure residents have plenty to do. 
“Our residents are coping really well and I would like to say a huge thank you to all of them and to all the children that sent us letters and pictures,” says Carly Sproston. 
Two residents made home-made cakes and pies which they sold in communal gardens, while maintaining social distancing, and have raised £600 which they have donated to local Leighton Hospital to help get extra PPE for hospital staff. 

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Bringing the community activities in 

The staff are committed to ensuring that the residents at Sahara Lodge and Gardens, a learning disabilities service do not miss out on their normal community activities. Janette Neal, Service Manager explains that it’s important that we do not underestimate the impact lockdown is having on the individuals that we support and how this may affect their behaviours, to limit this as much as possible we have asked the residents what community activities they miss the most. Following their feedback Sahara Lodge & Gardens has replicated these activities by opening a pub, running regular cinema, games and themed restaurant evenings, the service have also opened a shop where residents can purchase, sweets, drinks, magazines, newspapers and toiletries.  Residents have been actively involved in running the restaurant evenings, pub and shop which has given them a focus and kept their morale high.

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The Cabin provides day services at home   

When Broad Street House in Folkestone knew the people they supported couldn’t go to their local day care centre due to lockdown they decided to create their own. 

Registered Manager Tara Baker hired a portacabin, complete with power and heating, which was lowered into the garden by a huge crane, and was then turned into The Cabin offering day services from home for the 18 people aged 28 to 72 who live there. 

Staff and clients worked together to make The Cabin into a useable flexible space, so during the week there is a busy timetable that includes art, crafts, lessons on topics, quizzes, baking and gardening. Residents can also join in exercise classes including PE and line dancing.   
At the weekend the Cabin is then turned into a cinema showing weekly films with popcorn. It is also transformed into a hair salon as one of the staff is a former hairdresser, and a beauty parlour, where much needed haircuts takes place as well as nail painting.   
Tara and her team are also planning a ‘holiday festival’ where there will be DJs from the Cabin, food, camping in tents, bunting and all the usual fun you would have at a festival. Their clients won’t be able to go on holiday this year so funds are being spent on the festival weekend instead.  
Staff members have grown in confidence as the weeks have gone becoming really creative and continuing to come up with new ideas. One staff member who was usually very shy has been delivering lessons in the Cabin.  
Tara says it is difficult to keep people motivated, but the team have been amazing in making ‘work from home’ a great experience. 

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Linden Lodge keep families connected 

During the current crisis Linden Lodge Nursing Home in Tamworth wanted to find a way to maintain contact with relatives so Registered Manager Linda Lowrie created a daily blog. 

They were able to send families updates on what’s been taking place in the home and any changes to the way things are working. The blog included activity photos, staff messages and general chat, which Linda says has been a lifeline for families.  

They’ve also used FaceTime, Skype and WhatsApp to keep in touch with families and they also created a dedicated hour of telephone time when relatives can call without waiting in line to speak us.  

Linda is also chair of the Skills for Care North Warwickshire Registered Managers Network who are sharing their experiences during the crisis and her team have been delighted to receive morale boosting messages of support from relatives including: 

‘On TV matrons have a reputation to be dragons not dinosaurs but thankfully you are neither of those just an amazing Matron and a wonderful nurse.’ 

‘Thank you for your messages, I don’t know why but when I read them I feel as if all is well in this world 

It’s such a worrying time for us. Especially what we hear in the news about the situation in care homes.’ 

‘As ever thanks for this daily blog, it might only seem a small thing, but helps me as a relative keep that connection for what is sort of my second home.’ 

‘Thank you for the daily updates, which are so appreciated. Ken and myself would like to thank yourself and all the staff for the sterling job you are doing in these unprecedented times. We truly appreciate that each and every one of you are putting your own safety at risk in order to carry on caring for your residents, and for this selfless act we are truly grateful.’ 

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Wellbeing Support at Hales Care group 

Whether self-isolating or working within the Hales Care Group recognised that anxiety, worry, loneliness and concern for the wellbeing of family and friends may be hard for staff to process. 

The group who have providing person centre care services for the last 30 years is now encouraging any of their staff to contact their free Employee Assistance Helpline which offers: 

  • 24/7 support from qualified professionals, such as counsellors and nurses. 

  • Up to six free counselling sessions, via telephone or video call. 

  • Access to the Health & Wellbeing Hub, which helps the Hales staff to manage their physical and emotional health.  

Hales Care has also set up a free bereavement support helpline to support members of staff who are struggling to come to terms with the loss of a loved one.

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‘We have got this!’

The last few weeks have been tough for the team at Eastfield Residential Home in Kent so they created a new motivational phrase ‘We have got this’ to get each other to get through this crisis. 

They learnt early on all the team were going to have what they came to call ‘moments.; They recognised when each other were finding a situation difficult, or just having a ‘moment’; and supported each other through it. They found a cup of tea and bar of chocolate to be the best medicine!  

One of the team leaders recorded a daily message for staff - ‘Good Morning Campers, We have got this, We have got this!’ This was played this via their jukebox every morning at handover to boost morale and start the day with a smile.  

“We had spent longer with our colleagues than our loved ones and it soon became apparent that even when a break was needed it felt like a loss, says servce manager Lauren Traveller  “So in this tough time if we managed to take a day off a Whatsapp group enabled us to keep in touch. Thank you technology!   

“We have all dealt with end of life care before, but we now know that a COVID death is unlike anything we had ever seen before, and hopefully will never have to see again. Our residents have not been able to see our familiar faces and our smiles, it almost felt impersonal. In our own way we will be scarred by this, we all know that caring for someone at the end of their life is a privilege not a right, it was this that kept us going.   

“There is so much support for the NHS. We all know that they do a remarkable job with years of training, however, carers are now also on the front-line helping people who they consider as family. The emotional strain will take its toll, there is always light at the end of tunnel and this we hold on too.  

“We have laughed, and we have cried, but we all agree that without the support of each other it would have been impossible to get through this awful situation.” 

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Serving up care

Home care manager Carly Rochester recently went above and beyond to show the people who are supported by Lodge Group Care that they are not alone during this crisis.  

They did this by serving up over 200 dinners of home cooked food for all people who use their service and the people living with them. 

This heroic effort was all done at Carly’s house cooking for 20 solid hours all just using her little range cooker. Carly wasn’t alone in her efforts and was ably assisted by her dad, husband, daughter Chloe who works with the Lodge Group Care and Chloe’s boyfriend too! Between them they managed to peel 19 sacks of potatoes and cook 211 delicious meals. 

“I have a newfound respect for chefs,” says Carly. “WOW it’s no easy job and I will never complain again about my dinner taking too long in a restaurant now we know the extreme pressure they face!  The clean-up is another level too. 

All 211 dinners were out by 12pm for the lunch rounds to start. When Christmas comes and we cook our normal 25 meals it will feel like a walk in the park, especially after peeling all those spuds! We also put a little note in with each of the dinner parcels which Chloe had prepared. 

“We’ve had lovely feedback and have had repeat orders in for more next week! Sadly the chef’s whites have been hung up, but were so glad all the hard work and effort was worth it. None of us want to see a roast dinner again for quite a while!” 

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Rosslyn Court help families to be with loved ones at the end of life 

One elderly gentleman who lived at Rosslyn Court was nearing the end of his life. It had been previously arranged that the gentleman would have no further hospital admissions should he become seriously unwell. It was very recently recognised that the gentleman’s time was nearing and his family wished to be close to him during this time. 

We all recognise and understand the importance of having those close to us when we reach this stage of our lives and it is equally important to family members that they can be there for their loved ones at this time. 

Registered manager Kiran understood this and she and her staff did everything they could to ensure that the gentleman’s daughter and granddaughter were able to continue to visit him during a time when some care homes have closed their doors. The gentlemen passed peacefully and was able to share his last moments with the people who were most important to him. 

To ensure the well-being and safety of the residents, the staff and other relevant parties, the home asked the family members to follow the same protocol as the staff. This included the use of protective masks, aprons & gloves and the use of hand sanitiser after handwashing. Relevant risk assessments were also put in place. 

Using the same protocols, one gentleman was supported to visit his wife who was nearing the end of her life. With this careful and considerate approach being taken by the home, a lady was able to spend her last moments with her loving husband. 

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Complete Care West Yorkshire ltd, Wakefield 

Registered manager Sara Booth wanted to thank her team for the dedication and positivity they have shown so she called in Occasional cakes to help create and deliver a cake box for everyone to enjoy.  

The team were so grateful to receive these gestures of kindness and acknowledgement for the work they are doing out in the community.  

‘’What a lovely gesture Complete Care with these scrumptious buns. A much needed sugar rush. Thank you xx – Maria’’ 

‘’Thank you for my lovely surprise, I can’t wait to have my tea and get stuck into them x x x – Lisa’’ 

I honestly don’t know where to begin in singing the praises of my team. I am so proud of what we have all achieved during what is unprecedented times. 

We have adapted the way in which we work quite quickly and with some ease. A couple of the senior team are out working in the community to support our care team, whilst two seniors remain in the office to maintain the running of the business.There is a great sense of camaraderie amongst everyone” - Sara Booth Registered Manager.

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Home From Home Care team featured on local TV news 

Home From Home Care were featured on Look North for East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire showcasing the work staff are doing to maintain a normal life for the individuals they support.  

Footage was taken from Home From Home Care’s YouTube channel, which shows everything from life in the homes to the changing recruitment process and updates from managers. Families of the people they support were happy to see their loved ones during this time when visiting isn’t possible. Watch the video. 

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Care staff in Yorkshire rewarded for their efforts 

Gail Sykes, Managing Director of Burgundy Care Services in Holmfirth, explains how they are rewarding their staff. 

“We have got them a pack together, with things they need Laundry bag, goggles, alcohol gel etc, we added to this bag an Easter egg, car sticker, some handmade soap and some hand cream. We have just ordered them some small figurines.  

“For the team members with children we have ordered them some rainbow paper and felt pens for the children. We have some other things in the pipeline too, so we can keep giving them little thank you gifts as we go along. At the end of all this, they are all going to get a nice big bonus.” 

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Skills for Care Graduate Management learner transforms learning and development delivery

Due to COVID-19 learning and development activity between Milton Keynes Council’s Learning & Development department and Buckinghamshire University 4th year medical students was suspended.

Skills for Care Graduate Management learner Victoria Church, who is spending her social care placement year the council, stepped in by producing an on-line package to facilitate remote learning so the activity could continue under social distancing. Her actions protected the learning experience to undergraduates and preserved service delivery from Milton Keynes Council social care department to their committed student learners.

Victoria produced a remote package of learning for Buckinghamshire University 4th year medical students on the work of Adult Social Care and in particular how closer working relationships between health and social care staff can provide better, more personalised outcomes for service users.

The package includes the identification of suitable online learning opportunities in subjects such as safeguarding, dementia, mental capacity act & deprivation of liberties safeguards. It also provides information on the services provided by Milton Keynes Council’s adult social care service and its strategic partners in the voluntary sector.

Victoria also identified a variety of useful sources of research and information for the students on areas such as telecare, assistive technology and equipment services.

Once they have completed the pack medical students are required to answer key questions including: ‘describe the positive outcomes for patients/elderly frail people resulting from multi professional working across health & social care’, ‘When, how & why do adult social care staff undertake mental capacity assessments?’ and ‘What role does telecare play in regard to delaying the need for long term care?’

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Exemplar Health Care develop Associate Carer role    

Exemplar Health Care have developed a new Associate Carer role to help meet their growing demand for workers. 

They say the role is ideal for people who work in the hospitality, leisure or travel sectors who will be looking for extra work over the coming months, as well as anyone who wants to start a care career. 

People are asked to apply online, then do a video interview and if successful can start in their new role within 2-3 weeks. In their adverts Exemplar Health Care are looking for people who are caring, have good communication skills and want to make a difference.  

They’ve already had candidates interview and start their careers, many of whom don’t have any experience in care, but showed that they have the right values. Induction for the new recruits involves buddying an experienced colleague and eLearning. 

Read more about the Associate Carer role.

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Ade goes above and beyond 

Sarah Boardman, Registered Manager at Supported Living Services, explains how one of her team went above and beyond the call of duty. 

We are a service for adults with a learning disability, and have a gentleman who lives within our supported living service who sadly lost his Mum in July last year. Since then his Dad, who is in his late 80s, lives alone. We have been making regular contact with Dad to ensure that he is OK, and doesn't need anything during a time when the safest place for him was at home. 

Senior Care Worker Ade had tried to ring Dad on Sunday, he tried all afternoon, but no answer, so Ade telephoned me to say that he still wasn't answering the phone, and he was going round to check on him. Ade arrived and there was no answer at the door, so I advised him to try shouting through the letterbox, he did this and got a reply when he looked through the letterbox. He could see Dad’s head on the floor in the doorway of his bedroom. Ade telephoned for an ambulance and the police to be able to gain access. Dad was very poorly, and had likely been on the floor for up to 24 hours.  

The paramedics and police were amazed that Ade had cared enough to check on Dad, especially at this worrying time. Unfortunately, Dad is now in hospital and very poorly, but without Ade, he may have died on that floor alone and afraid. 

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Scarborough care group gives food hampers to staff 

Saint Cecilia’s Care Group teamed up with local bakers Cooplands to provide staff with a food hamper as a reward for their hard work during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The North Yorkshire based group called in the Scarborough bakers to create 160 hampers for each of its staff who have been delivering services during lockdown. The delivery of a hamper to each member of staff follows on from the company’s decision to give them a COVID-19 pay bonus. 

“This has been the toughest, most challenging period for any care provider to go through and we are truly proud of our staff’s efforts throughout, they have been magnificent,” says Managing Director Mike Padgham. 

And the bakers were happy to create the hampers for the care team. 

“We were very pleased to help Saint Cecilia’s when they called to say they were looking to supply their staff with food hampers,” notes Belinda Youngs, CEO of Cooplands. “It is wonderful that they are supporting a local baker in this way as we all have to work together during these tough times.” 


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Easter Bunny visits Radfield Home Care 

A surprise visit from the Easter Bunny delivering gifts. 

Registered care manager Gemma Bristow was taken aback to receive an email from carer Gillian checking that it was okay on Easter Sunday when visiting her regular clients to give them all an Easter Egg and spring flowers. 

Gillian joined the Radfield care team in February this year, and according to Gemma goes above and beyond in every aspect of her role. 

“I was overwhelmed with Gillian’s offer and generosity to give her clients these Easter gifts, as it was something she wanted to do and pay for herself,” says Gemma. “I hadn’t realised that she was also going to dress up as an Easter bunny with ‘bunny ears’, so when Gillian shared the photo with us, all set and ready to go with her gifts in the early hours of Sunday morning, we were all taken aback that she was going to such effort.” 

And the visits from the bunny proved very popular.  

“I visit 6 clients every Sunday, with the first of care call at 7.15 am,” recalls Gillian. “My first client is always in her nightie and dressing gown when I visit, ready to be helped to get dressed, but on Sunday, my client howled with laughter at the sight of me with my bunny ears, and delighted with her Easter treats".   

I also visited another regular client of mine who is in a wheelchair. He was so taken aback with my Easter gifts and bunny ears, the expression on his face, will stay with me forever!  Another client commented that she had not received an Easter egg, since she was a child, bringing back lots of childhood memories that she went on to share with me.” 


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Supporting new recruits 

Caroline Southgate. Managing Director at Doris Jones Ltd, Gibraltar House in Westcliff-on-Sea, reflects on how they are supporting their new recruits who are joining social care in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. 

We put together a training day for new recruits in week one of the lockdown to stay ahead of the demand.  

I did a basic version of our usual induction, and the new team are to be used to back fill the less complex care needs such as meals, shopping or just a companion or welfare visit. 

Of the eight on the day we had a few who had done care before - one used to work for us years ago and is now a swimming teacher with no work, and one was an 18 year old pre midwifery student who, although daunted, was keen to try care of older people.

One of the new recruits was a European Tour caddie who obviously has no bag to carry or putting tips to give right now as his sport is stopped!

The key message was it’s all about VALUES, and it’s not that we think this is a low skilled job that anyone can do. Far from it, and we wanted to have back up for the less onerous tasks, so that our highly skilled workforce can be deployed efficiently where we need them most.


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Stow Healthcare innovate to find new staff

When Stow Healthcare were looking to recruit staff as they dealt with the impact of COVID-19 they decided to target people who had been laid off in industries being heavily impacted by the crisis.  

“The idea came to me when I heard about airline staff losing two month’s pay,” says Stow Healthcare’s Operation Director Ruth French. “Clearly people cannot survive without the income that they are used to, and I realised that there were many sectors facing the same problem, including retail and hospitality.

“We need extra staff right now, and we are in a position to train and support staff on a temporary basis, if they want to return to their normal roles in the coming months, or even permanently if they love our homes! ”

The company were offering opportunities across care, catering and housekeeping across its five homes in Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex who support around 250 residents.

They have been delighted with the response to their adverts appealing to workers from hard hit sectors to work in care with people responding positively to coverage in local press, BBC Look East and social media campaigns at a targeted local level. 

The advert seems to have been particularly well received by self-employed people from a variety of backgrounds. The positive response means they are now set to eradicate any agency use at all from the care homes this month, which is a vital part of their strategy to reduce the possibility of COVID-19 entering the homes.   

They have also supported self-employed hairdressers who have previously visited homes to provide services who are now coming to them to work as carers.