Skills for Care

2021 good news stories: part one

15 Dec 2021

Skills for Care

  • Social work
  • Culture and diversity
  • Wellbeing

Over the past year we’ve been collecting good news stories from across the sector, as providers have shared with us some of their moments of joy and positivity amidst what has been another challenging year.

As part of our #2021Highlights campaign we’re rounding up and sharing some of the good news stories that we’ve been sent.

We hope this helps to spread some happiness as we head towards the end of the year.


Anna O’ Brien is named Newly Qualified Social Worker of the Year

Anna O’Brien, a social worker in Hull Council’s children, young people and families service has won the Newly Qualified Social Worker of the Year award.

Anna joined the council’s north locality children’s team as a social work student. She qualified with first class honours in social work and then applied for a permanent position with the council.

During the pandemic, Anna co-ordinated a community response to helping those families who were isolating due to ill health and had no extended family support. She called local charities and businesses who could help fund activities, food, or general help. Over the course of the lockdown she delivered food parcels, activity packs and booklets around covid to help children who were worried and parents who struggled to explain this in a child-centred way. Anna did some of the activities on FaceTime, she dropped off colouring pens and games in gardens, and this helped those families living in poverty stimulate the children during those worrying times. Anna also went the extra mile working with a young person by working flexible hours and being on-hand for advice and support. She booked to see the young person most days and at least twice a week on an evening she would go running and allow the young person to let off steam and improve her moods.

Claire Rutherford, Principal social worker

Bernard Sunley care home takes to the high seas with cruise activity

Residents at Bernard Sunley, the Woking-based care home run by charity Friends of the Elderly, have taken to the high seas, sailing around the Mediterranean before heading off to the Caribbean, via Japan.

Throughout the cruise, residents have virtually visited different countries all whilst staying safely inside their specially decorated cruise lounge in the home. They’ve been on excursions, tried new culinary delights, received country-specific souvenirs, and enjoyed delicious cruise-like cocktails and tipples.

Following the success of their popular ‘2020 around the world culinary experience’ activity, which saw the care home enjoying new culinary dishes from around the world each month, Bernard Sunley’s manager, Andy Cumper, decided to utilise one of the lounges at the care home to provide more global experiences.

They used decorations to create an authentic travelling and cruising environment. The cruise lounge has a holiday atmosphere and through clever imagery, gives a realistic cruise experience.

The international voyage began back in January and has continued each month, giving passengers the opportunity to experience different cultures, sights, traditions, and customs. To make the virtual trip even more realistic, each trip begins with a video of a cruise boat sailing and then docking into port.

Using imagery and videos, they’ve taken in historical sites along the way including Rome’s Colosseum.

Andy said:

It provides another focus to the day for [the people we support], their relatives and the staff here. “We’re always looking for ways to engage and delight our care home community and knowing how well this was received last year meant we couldn’t wait to cast off and start travelling again. “Taking part in the cruise and visiting all the different destinations has been very stimulating and everyone has enjoyed the escapism – visiting sunnier climbs when it’s been raining outside. The virtual trips were great for reminiscing and sparked a lot of conversations about past holidays and brought back lovely memories.

Surrey care home’s two new kittens bring a calming influence for people with dementia

At Redcot, Friends of the Elderly’s residential care home in Haslemere, Surrey, the residents welcomed two new furry additions to the home family this year– Socks and Slippers – two adorable, playful, and friendly kittens.

Not only have Socks and Slippers warmed the hearts of everyone at the home, but the two new additions have also had an incredible and positive impact on people at the home who are living with dementia.

Jan Daly, the Manager at Redcot said the decision to adopt the kittens and give them a warm, caring, and safe home was a unanimous verdict supported by everyone living there. She said:

During one of our daily activity sessions, [our staff and the people they support] were discussing pets and animals, sharing fond memories of pets, talking about their grandchildren’s pets and even family trips to zoos and safari parks. “The conversation then moved on to how much they would like to have a Redcot pet, so the decision was made. Around the same time, my friend’s cat had just had a litter of mixed breed kittens and she needed to find good, loving homes for them, so she kindly let us adopt two for Redcot – a very cute brother and sister.

One of the many positives Jan and the team have discovered since the arrival of Socks and Slippers is that through the many interactions, the friendly felines have brought a sense of calm to the everyone at Redcot, especially those living with dementia.

Check back next week for part two, where we share more good news stories.

Share your good news stories with us by emailing

Have a look at our #2021Highlights spotlight for more reflections on the year.

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