On Saturday 15th May, the Guildhall, London provided a spectacular backdrop for the finals of the Great British Home Care Awards, where the thirteen category winners were announced.

The Great British Care Awards, supported by the Department of Health, NatWest Bank and HET Software, are a series of regional awards which celebrates excellence in social care and pay tribute to those who work in the sector. The awards are all inclusive, bringing together the statutory, independent and voluntary sectors, as well as unpaid carers; promoting joint working.

The regional awards were held in the Autumn of 2009 for the first time. The winners of these awards from the home care sector were then invited to attend a gala dinner at the Guildhall, where presenter Keith Chegwin announced the winners. The national home care awards were hosted by Ceretas, the national membership organisation representing home care.

The Great British Care awards have received nominations and support from all corners of the sector. Sector support includes the Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE), Skills for Care, Ceretas and the English Community Care Association. Local Authority support and commercial organisations are also supporting the awards. Caring UK magazine is the media partner.

There were a total of twelve awards categories available for nomination, which represent all areas of the care sector, whether it be older people or specialist services and from frontline staff such as care workers and care managers to people who have made an impact in other ways such as training, IT and innovation.

Nominations came in from all corners of the sector and the regions and successful candidates invited for interview for the national finals. The gala award evening started in style with a champagne reception, followed by a superb gourmet dinner and the awards presentation. Following the awards guests were invited to extend the celebrations at an after party on the magnificent Dutch Master, a three decked boat, which cruised along the river Thames – a perfect finale for an amazing evening.

The awards support a chosen charity, The Maggie’s Centre, which has sites across the country supporting people who lives have been impacted upon by cancer.

In addition an auction for the Care Professionals Benevolent Fund was held – the prize, a jeroboam of French rosé wine The Care Professionals Benevolent Fund is the registered charity for the Care Sector and are here to support current, former and retired care professionals, by providing assistance to relieve financial hardship or sickness. The winner of the auction was Layesh Patel from Westminster Home Care who bid a staggering £2,500.

Mary Bryce, Chair of Ceretas, said of the awards,

“Ceretas are delighted to be hosting The Great British Home Care Awards. The care awards have gone from strength to strength with regional events that have taken everyone by surprise by the sheer numbers of entries and interest from partners and sponsors alike.

These awards recognise and pay tribute to the efforts and dedication of all those who work tirelessly to ensure that so many people are able to live independent lives in their own home. They are the perfect showcase to reflect on best practice in the Home Care Sector. A sector where people truly dedicate themselves to their work and take pride in their achievements. We are delighted to be able to offer one year’s free membership to all category winners tonight, either for the individual or for their organisation.”

The winners of the Great British National Home Care Awards, together with the judges comments are detailed below:

Care Newcomer Award

Emily Woodward Allied Healthcare

Emily demonstrated an unfailing commitment and passion to her new career. Emily works with a challenging client base and sees through any problems to ensure a positive outcome for the service user. She goes way beyond the call of duty and her dedication to her vocation is remarkable. Congratulations Emily.

Care Employer (more than 250 Employees) Award

Jane Worsley & Denise Blewitt – Community Integrated Care

Two sparkling ambassadors testified to the passion in Community Integrated Care, from the Chairman down of Putting People First – ‘it’s a journey and we’re in it for the long term’

Care Employer (less than 250 Employees) Award

Wendy & Martin Beesley, Allcare

In what has been a very high quality category the judges felt that Wendy and Martin Beesley of Allcare showed true passion and commitment to making a difference to each individual somewhat and to each of their well trained staff.

Home Care Worker Award

Susan McGowan – Continued Care from Oakville

Susan’s natural caring ability shines through, she is thoughtful and aware of people’s individual needs. She encourages her service users to do as much as they can – she said ‘I want to push people back up to their former glory’

Home Care Registered Manager Award

Claire Cooper, Radis Community Care

Claire was chosen for the passion and commitment she demonstrated to the panel. She described her experience in home care as a journey, a journey where she had been able to take something from every role she has had into her current position as Branch Manager. She was very enthused about her team and her ability to pass on skills and knowledge that will benefit both care staff and their customers alike.

Home Care Worker of a Specialist Service

Anna Fenton, Extra Mile Care Company

Anna’s enthusiasm won the judges over. She clearly enjoys her job with her eagerness to support disability rights, the dignity of the service user and approaches her work with humour, pride and innovation.

Dignity in Care Award

Craven North Initial Contact Team

The Craven North Initial Contact Team have very clearly demonstrated both individually and as part of a team, how they embrace and promote dignity within their everyday practice.

Dementia Carer Award

Jacqueline Ranscombe – Blue Bird Care

Jacqueline demonstrated her enthusiasm and commitment to providing dementia care. Jacqueline uses life history to trigger regaining skills that had disappeared, gains trust and provides services using the focus of the recipient. She sets herself the daily challenge of what she can assist the service user to achieve not her own achievements.

Home Care Team Award

Kate’s Home Nursing

A stunning care team with a magic mix, who left the judges in no doubt that the one chance they get is the one chance they need to provide end of life care.

Home Care Trainer Award

Susannah Spencer – Lincolnshire County Council

Susannah is exceptional. She demonstrated a wide breadth of knowledge & depth of understanding of the role of home care trainer: both in terms of its impact on the organisation, its benefit to the individual worker and therefore ultimately to the benefit of people receiving the service.

Susannah is totally committed to home care, extremely professional, enthusiastic and creative, balancing sound traditional principles with significant innovation in her day to day work.

Home Care Innovator Award

Caroline Bairstowe, Community Integrated Care

The judges felt that several finalists in this category had strong credentials as an innovator within home care. Caroline Bairstow from CIC demonstrated clear passion and determination with a new initiative based around the inclusion of service users in the auditing of services, linking in to senior management company wide.

IT Innovator

Winner – Steve D’Souza, Nestor Healthcare PLC

Nestor were able to demonstrate a continuous improvement of their IT systems. One example was their pioneering use of technology to develop an interface with the Criminal Records Bureau. This not only reduces paper process and the error rate but leads to faster recruitment and ultimately the delivery of a better quality service to their service users.

Outstanding Contribution to Social Care Award

Mary Bryce, Ceretas / Housing21

Mary Bryce is Head of Extra Care at Housing21 and has responsibility for housing, care and related services in supported housing schemes across the country. Mary has worked for Housing21 since Jan 1997, initially as Regional Care Manager and latterly as Regional Operations Manager. Although her background is in home care management Mary has extensive social care management experience having worked in Social Services in two local authorities before joining Housing21. Mary has an MA in Social Welfare and Social Work. She has been Chair of Ceretas since 2000.

Mary has committed the whole of her life to caring for and about others – both at work and in her personal life. Nothing is ever too much trouble for her and one of her favourite expressions is “We can sort it” and she does! Whilst she has been responsible at Housing21 for one of the biggest domiciliary care services in the country, she never forgets that its about individual people.

Colleagues admire and love her for her modesty, knowledge, tremendous commitment and sense of fun. She commands great loyalty and respect for her staff and indeed from commissioners. One commissioner has been reported to say “until Mary did the presentation to our commissioning team Housing21 was not the front runner. She made us believe that the service was indeed based upon strong values and would be safe in her hands. I hope the organisation appreciates what she contributes.”

She has been a huge advocate of extra care housing and has promoted it for the last 10 years at every opportunity because it offers the kind of flexible supported housing setting where individuals can enjoy life to the full.

At Ceretas she has been an inspiration giving the kind of caring leadership that the domiciliary sector so desperately needs. Over a very short period of time the organisation has become well known and respected by government, commissioners and most importantly trusted by its membership. It truly speaks for home care and home care workers who do a tremendous job.