Staff members who help to make North Yorkshire's adult social care and public health services outstanding have been publicly thanked in the county's Health and Adult Services Staff Excellence Awards.
At a time when adult social care services nationally are acutely stretched, the County Council continues to invest in the frontline to a greater extent than many other councils.
This week's awards are therefore an important way of saying thank you to frontline staff who work above and beyond in their line of duty and make a real difference to the lives of the county's most vulnerable people.
County Councillor Clare Wood, Executive Member for Health and Adult Services, said: "North Yorkshire has brilliant people working in adult social care and public health who are totally dedicated, motivated and professional. It's one of the main reasons why these services are so appreciated and highly-valued.
"North Yorkshire continues to invest in improving adult social care services" added Cllr Wood, "but we could not achieve excellent services without the outstanding contribution of our staff. Each of these awards tells a story of impressive and deep commitment to improving the lives of others."
The awards cover ten categories, covering areas such as working as a team, customer excellence, outstanding leadership and supporting independence.
Winners and runners-up include:
- A social care assessor who has helped to set up a fast response team for people experiencing dementia, who are frequent callers to 999. Working with health partners she has helped people and their carers who are experiencing a health crisis to avoid hospital admission where possible. Her input has been greatly appreciated by local police colleagues as it has resulted in significant reduction in police time responding to inappropriate emergency calls;
- A residential home's gardener who works long hours come rain or shine to create a beautiful environment because he loves his job so much;
- A laundry assistant at a home for the elderly who has provided residents with an exceptional standard of service for more than 20 years;
- A social worker who has supported a group of deaf and blind people to set up a focus group, enabling them to operate more and more independently to work with other organisations and secure an independent source of funding;
- A team which maintained an excellent standard of service during last year's floods in Wensleydale when roads were impassable. The team offers intensive support to get people back on their feet at home after discharge from hospital. Despite the floods the team managed to attend all essential calls and all workers attended their shifts - including one whose own home had been seriously flooded. One member of the team also helped to dig a ditch to keep a care home in the area from flooding.
The awards were based on the 'votes' of users of the services and of staff, and were presented by Elly Fiorentini from BBC Radio York at a ceremony at the Galtres Centre in Easingwold.
County Councillor David Chance, Executive Member for Stronger Communities and Public Health, said: "Our staff and our managers do an excellent job, made even more remarkable by the financial pressures which come from years of national austerity. It is a privilege to be associated with such professionalism in what are two of the most vital services the council provides - social care, and public health.''
Working as a team for North Yorkshire:
5 Whitby Road Elderly Persons' Home, Pickering
The staff team at Whitby Road have faced great adversity in recent months due to a lack of staff and sickness cover. Vacancies have run, on average, at 200 hours per week. The team have covered night shifts, domestic, cook and resource worker shifts. Many staff have taken on roles they were not familiar with. Despite these issues, the staff team has provided an excellent service to all of the residents and consistently receives compliments from the family and friends of residents. Without the dedication of the staff team the service would not have remained safe and responsive. Every aspect of the residents' care has remained person-centred with the focus well and truly on the residents' needs and wishes.
Front Line - Dignity & Respect:
Julia Richardson, Team Manager and Verity Heslop-Mullens, Social Care Co-ordinator - Selby East Assessment Team
Julia and Verity worked very hard with a residential home in the Selby area that was struggling to deliver a good quality service. Ultimately, the home made the decision to close. Julia and Verity actively worked with the residents through reassessments and person-centred approaches to planning moving home. This was potentially a very distressing time for residents and their families. Julia and Verity made a huge difference throughout this process, even making sure that people were actively supported on their moving day, being present and undertaking journeys themselves to new homes in support of people.
After the awards ceremony Helen Edwards, head of communications at NYCC, interviewed Julia and Verity. Click here to listen.
Jane Hudson, Domestic Assistant - 1 Larpool Lane Elderly Persons' Home, Whitby
Jane Hudson supports another domestic assistant who has a learning disability. Jane ensures that her colleague has the equipment she requires, has a break during her shift and monitors her when she is working. If her colleague is unable to complete a task, then Jane either works alongside her or completes the task for her. Due to her colleague's learning difficulties, the fire awareness training is provided for her at a separate time. Jane has on more than one occasion travelled from home by bus to work (an hour's bus ride) in her own time to support her colleague during a fire training session. Jane's support to a fellow worker goes beyond the general support provided, especially as Jane has given some of this support in her own time.
Making a difference behind the scenes:
Kevin Hines, Gardener, Silver Birches Elderly Persons' Home ‑ Filey
Kevin is a gardener for Silver Birches residential home. Kevin works tirelessly to keep the garden neat and tidy. He often works more than the hours he is paid for. Kevin comes to work rain or shine and often works the full day but requests no extra remuneration for this. It is difficult to persuade Kevin to take his annual leave because he loves his job so much. He has never had a day's sickness and always volunteers to help at fundraising events.
Joss Harbron, Head of Provider Services - Countywide
Joss embodies professionalism, excellence and passion for what she does. Joss has a wealth of knowledge and experience of the county council having worked in many departments and a great vision of the future outcomes and pathways to achievement. Joss has a gift and endless energy for getting a job done and inspiring her team and others to understand and embrace goals. Under Joss's leadership, for example, the Supported Employment team has become a strong, dedicated and cohesive unit. In her current role as Head of Provider Services, Joss stimulates challenges, enriches and upskills her Team Managers at a time of huge demand and pressure.
Voice, Choice and Control:
Debbie Kouzarides, Social Worker with Deaf People, Countywide
Debbie has worked with a group of deafblind people over the past couple of years, supporting them to come together to develop their own approach to having a sustainable user-led forum. The specific group of people have a complex sensory impairment called Ushers Syndrome, which affects a small number of people but is quite complex in nature and brings unique challenges. Debbie has supported the group, allowing time and space for people to explore ideas and identify priorities. Debbie has enabled the group to gradually move into a position where they can be self-sustaining, including working with another organisation to secure a source of independent funding.
After the awards ceremony Helen Edwards interviewed Debbie. Click here to listen.
Realising the potential of communities:
Safe Places Project Group - Countywide
North Yorkshire Safe Places is a nationally recognised community initiative for people who may need more help and support when they are out and about in the community. NYCC, in partnership with North Yorkshire Police, libraries, district councils, voluntary sector organisations, travel organisations and pharmacies, launched the North Yorkshire Safe Places in May 2016. A small project group has been responsible for making this scheme happen. They have engaged with more than 100 organisations across North Yorkshire to achieve sign-up to the scheme. They have engaged with a vast range of user groups and vulnerable people to listen to their views and respond to their calls for support to feel safe within their own communities by developing the card, wristband and contact number.
Beth Welch, Social Care Assessor - Craven South Assessment Team
Beth provides social work support to the Craven Collaborative Care Team. This is an integrated team with Health providing a fast response service to people and their carers who are experiencing a health crisis which is placing them at high risk of hospital admission, care admission or needing increased care and support. Beth works assertively and diplomatically with colleagues from a wide range of professions and agencies. She has worked to set up innovative solutions for people experiencing dementia who are frequent callers to 999. Her input has been greatly appreciated by local police colleagues as it has resulted in significant reduction in police time responding to inappropriate emergency calls.
After the awards ceremony Helen Edwards interviewed Beth. Click here to listen.
Innovation & Improvement:
Zaheer Ishtiaq, Direct Payments Adviser - Skipton
Over the past year, Zaheer has worked to forge links with Stronger Communities to provide support to set up and hold a peer support group for people who use direct payments in the Craven area. Zaheer has been instrumental in providing information and practical support which led to the first peer support group being held just before Christmas last year. There have now been two peer group events, both of which have received very good attendance and feedback.
After the awards ceremony Helen Edwards interviewed Zaheer. Click here to listen.
Wendy Inman, Laundry Assistant - Ashfield Elderly Persons' Home, Malton
Wendy has provided Ashfield Elderly Persons' Home in Malton with more than 20 years' service and is an inspiration to all the members of the team. Wendy works tirelessly in the laundry which is isolated from the main building. Wendy provides the residents with an exceptional standard of service, laundering and maintaining their clothes to an exceptional level. Families and friends of the residents have often commented that their loved one's clothes are laundered to excellent standards. Wendy also works in her own time to decorate the home for Christmas and other events.