On Tuesday this week, I had a sunny smile on my face as I attended the Adult Social Care Awards for Excellence. I say a ‘sunny smile’ because I don’t think it matters who you are, I think most folk like some form of positive recognition because it simply feels a little bit lovely! Whether such recognition is a formal or an informal affair, to be acknowledged can give someone a gorgeous glow as the awards ceremony so readily proved. Today we hear from some of the winners; acknowledge those nominated and, of course, ask a little thought provoking question or two… Before the event, I talked to two folk who were flushed with humbled pride at being nominated. One a highly honed professional who is simply brilliant at his job (Mr Robinson, press person extraordinaire!) and the other, a fantastic volunteer (Mr Stephen Danby) who was a stranger to any such form of recognition (he even asked me what he should wear – I only slimly avoided the wind up of ‘it’s a compulsory ‘black tie’ dress code’!).
Something linked these two seemingly disconnected staff members though. They said they were ‘embarrassed’ (blush) at being nominated, but equally really ‘chuffed’ and ‘shocked’ that someone had taken time out to put a convincing and credible case of why they were special enough to deserve an award. I suspect that feeling was shared by almost all in that room.
And so, my first message is this; I think almost everyone has someone they could’ve nominated and there’s a test if you wanted to prove me wrong!
Please take 30 seconds to think about the colleagues and partners you work with. Who is that ‘someone’ who always goes the extra mile? Who is that someone who is always there to support you; who makes a difference both inside and outside of the Council? Even when life inside our social care world seems a little too tough to take, who is that someone who simply remains positive and lifts a smile? And so I have a new tactic/top tip – I’m going to start making a list as the year passes by of folk that have done something that’s worthy of recognition then I won’t forget. Yes, I’ll let them know at the time, but for the relatively little effort it takes, I may just nominate them too. As Sandie Keene said:
‘This is the day when, every year, we pause a little to reflect on all that is good in Adult Social Care and to celebrate the amazing work our staff do, day in, day out. It’s also a reflection of the incredible support we provide for each other and the respect and esteem we hold for our colleagues. For every single person who has been nominated for an award, there is another person, or more, who has taken the trouble to send in a nomination, to say, metaphorically, ‘this person deserves a pat on the back’ and to bring us together in today’s celebration’.
And so the ceremony. Sometimes it’s wonderful to be reminded why we do what we do for the people of Leeds and how we can contribute to Better Lives for all. This was perfectly highlighted by members and carers of the Peer Support Group for people living with dementia, led by the fantastic duo of Debbie Marshall and Debbie Catley. The presentation reflected how this group has harnessed the power of their own creativity to bring fulfilment and companionship into their lives. It was a thought provoking moment and perfectly placed to start the celebrations. As Debbie Marshall said: ‘It’s lovely to showcase what we do and it’s really special that we have people from our service to be part of the celebration.’
This would be the longest blog in the history of Better Lives blogs if I were to mention all of the good and great who were nominated – you know who you are and congratulations for getting a deserved seat in the Banqueting Hall yesterday. Therefore, for each of the categories, I’ll be noting those who were ‘highly commended’ and, of course, the wonderful winners.
Making a difference to customers and communities
- Debbie Catley
- Ruth Furness
- Jo Smith
Winner: The SkILS team
The service has been developing over the last three years and in the last 12 months alone has worked with over 2,000 people, helping support them, following a change in their health and care needs, to regain their independence and live the lives they choose, with dignity, in their own homes. The staff have embraced the enabling ethos and over 50% of customers they work with become independent again.
Amanda Wardman said: ‘We’re immensely proud of the SkILS team; recognising not only the individual effort but the whole service who have collectively played a massive part in making a difference to people’s lives’.
Team achievement of the year
- Holt Park Active
- Leeds I Care Ambassadors
- Physical Impairment Team at Holt Park and Osmondthorpe
Winner: Older people’s day services and residential review team
They have assessed and supported over 200 older people and worked with their families and carers to find alternative daytime occupation and residential care. The work needed to be sensitively managed and required the use of person centred approaches to achieve appropriate and positive outcomes for the individuals concerned.
Pat Gledhill said: ‘Considering all the fantastic people we were up against, we didn’t think we had a hope! It has been wonderful that we’ve been recognised. I think we’re still in a little shock!’
Volunteer of the year
- Stephen Danby
- Amanda Franklin
- Kate Hancock
Winner: Simon Mort
Originally a service user himself after sustaining a head injury, Simon has thrown himself into the life of the Osmondthorpe Hub centre, helping new service users settle in and gaining a well-deserved reputation as an inspirational, caring volunteer, who will help with anything that is asked of him. Simon still has to deal with his own disability and the issues it brings, but as well as caring for his elderly parents at home, and supporting Osmondthorpe Hub five days a week, he has never missed a day whilst being a volunteer.
Simon said: ‘I’m ecstatic; it’s so unexpected and I’m delighted!’
Learner of the year
- Delia Clarke
- Julie Burdekin
- Shaun Cale
Winner: John Boston
John has been a service user since May 2011. Within that time he has worked hard to deal with his mental health issues, with support from staff and his own considerable determination. He has taken every opportunity offered to better himself, completing IT courses and recently gaining a certificate that allows him to teach other service users in the camera club at the centre he attends. He supports a tutor from Work Place Leeds to deliver an IT class and does all this whilst also supporting his wife who also has mental health issues. He is admired by his peers as a source of inspiration and guidance.
On winning the award, John said: ‘It feels great; it feels as though all the work I’ve done has been recognised and I feel really chuffed! I’m very pleased to have received this award, and for the great cake too!’.
Personal achievement award
- Liz Ward
- Annette Lawson-Bradley
- Linda Middlewood
Winner: Wayne Walters
Wayne has worked for Leeds City Council for 22 years. He has learning difficulties and worked for many years at Roseville Enterprises in the sheltered factory. In 2010 he took a significant step forward and gained an admin post in learning disability services, where he worked hard to improve his skills. According to his colleague, Debra Misset, who nominated him for this award, his confidence has grown a great deal. He now travels independently – and this doesn’t just mean catching the bus to work! This year, for the third year running, he travelled alone to Gatwick Airport, took a flight to Las Vegas, and went to a concert at Caesar’s Palace (where else?) to see his favourite star, Celine Dion and is going again in December to see her! He’s also been to the Grand Canyon, Los Angeles, the Hollywood Walk of Fame and even taken a night-time helicopter flight over ‘Vegas. All his adventures are completely independent and Wayne’s commitment to work is judged to have helped him with his fantastic personal achievements.
On winning the award, Wayne said: ‘It’s fantastic! I absolutely didn’t expect it; I mean I’d hoped I had a chance but when they came out with my name I was flabbergasted! I’m amazed and really pleased at the same time’
Partner of the year award
- Peter Hodkinson
- Heather O’Donnell
- Bill Rollinson
Winner: Val Hewison
Val is described as ‘one of those people you’d be hard pushed to forget – and for all the right reasons!’ She is Chief Executive of Carers Leeds, which she modestly says is ‘no one-woman show, but an entire team who make a difference for carers in Leeds’. For countless years, this vibrant, inspirational woman has brightened the lives of carers across our city and probably far beyond. She succeeds because she cares, has credibility and is committed.
Val said: ‘I am over the moon at receiving this award, particularly as we’re in the incredible company of all the other deserving nominees. It’s a real honour and one I’ll gladly take back to Carers Leeds team who’ll be just as delighted as I am. Thank you.’
The last two categories in our annual Awards for Excellence were for Leader of the year and Colleague of the year. At this point, Councillor Adam Ogilvie took over from Sandie to present the two final prestigious awards: ‘I’d like to say first of all what a pleasure it is to be here today and to share your celebration of all that is great and good within Adult Social Care. I’m here to remind you of the immense political support you have for the work you do. To see and hear of all these fantastic achievements tells me that our support is very well placed. It’s a real honour to be with you today.’
Leader of the year award
- Anna Clifford
- Janet Fearnley
Winner: Phil Schofield
Phil was nominated by more than one colleague but Charlotte Goulding summed up his work ethic in his job as manager of the hospital social work teams. She said, ‘Phil strives for excellent practice. He works closely with health colleagues in the hospital to develop partnership, collaboration and an understanding of the social work role. If Phil thinks any patient is at risk as a result of pressure to be discharged, he will be very assertive in ensuring that their rights are upheld, that legislation such as Human Rights, Data Protection and the Mental Capacity Act are followed and that the social work values of dignity, open communication and preventive ways of working are upheld.
Phil commented on his award: ‘This reward reflects all the hard work that the hospital social work teams do and it is a huge credit to them that I was nominated and have received this award.’
Colleague of the year
- Amy Milner
- Alison Ward
Winner: Eileen Storey
In February 2014, Adult Social Care lost a dear friend and much respected colleague following her courageous battle with a major illness. Throughout her illness, Eileen Storey remained eager to be updated on developments in the service where Eileen had worked for many, many years. Eileen is remembered by her colleagues as an extremely hard working, knowledgeable and compassionate practitioner who was dedicated to the aim of supporting service users and families in improving their lives and the options available. Eileen was a skilled manager and very experienced mental health practitioner who demonstrated on a daily basis the importance of helping people maximise their own potential. Eileen remained a modest individual who preferred to shy away from the limelight, demonstrating the importance of listening actively.
Eileen’s husband John said of receiving this award on her behalf: ‘Eileen would have been so embarrassed but so proud of this incredible tribute, as are we. It’s been an amazing day and we’re so pleased to have shared in this celebration.’
And now for the unexpected! Sandie took the opportunity to thank a few more colleagues in particular for their support during her 7 years in Adult Social Care, and the past year when Sandie’s role as President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services took her away from Leeds on many occasions. Although a shock for the recipients of the award, I’m sure it wasn’t for those that know the colleagues who were specially mentioned for their support and for guiding social care in Leeds with such confidence and skill:
- Alison Ward – Sandie’s PA
- Lyndsay Richardson – Business & Governance Support Manager
- Shirley Johnson – Policy Support Manager
- DLT – our directorate leadership team
- Dennis Holmes – Deputy Director of Adult Social Care
And finally. Some may see these celebrations as a reward for the past, which in part it is, but for me, it was more of an encouragement for the future. We hear time and time again of the challenges we face; of the hard times we’ve had and perhaps the hard times yet to come and it would be SO easy to let these events pass by, but yesterday taught me something. As difficult as it may sometimes be, there are (literally) hundreds of people out there who ‘keep calm and carry on’ despite what’s thrown at them. Who take pride; who have the professionalism to go above and beyond and for that, we really should celebrate. That for me is encouraging. It’s not all doom and gloom; there’s a little glorious glory to be had too. In the words of Tony Myers, a service user from the Peer Support Group:
‘I can’t believe how many amazing people work for the council!’. We know Tony. We know.
Well done one and all, it really was emotional!