A role in care is forged by selfless individuals willing to give their all for those they support. They are people with kindness at their core, care in their hearts and a passion that seeps from within. They are the people that make the difference and without them, we wouldn’t be able to provide the life changing care and support that some so desperately need.
One dreary day in March while the team at Warwickshire DCA were tirelessly working around the clock to make the people we support smile, area recruiter Sophie Boulter recognised something that she wanted to change. She wanted to give staff an opportunity to engage with other support workers and people we support in the region to encourage collaboration and teamwork. This would act as part of Sophie’s staff retention plan to make the staff feel valued and appreciated.
After some deliberation and one light bulb moment, CommuniTEA was born! But what did this entail and how would it come about? Arranged by Sophie and the Warwickshire DCA staff, this was organised to fall alongside an annual service review as a celebration of the staff, and would include the people we support, their families and a number of healthcare professionals. Sophie said:
“From our point of view, we want the staff to feel that we live by our values - that we respect, appreciate and value what they do on a day-to-day basis. This was just one way we could give back to them for their hard work."
What started off as a simple idea to boost morale, grew to become one of the biggest events the region has produced, with attendance and engagement the highest it’s ever been! Not only did it generate a wealth of excitement amongst staff and the people we support, it also brought the region together, with every one getting involved and making a huge effort to ensure the event was successful.
The day got off to a delicious start as the cake bake competition commenced, with judges Gavin Dixon and Lisa Wright looking for the next Mary Berry. After a tense few mouthfuls, the judge’s taste buds decided that support worker Lindsey Merry was well worth ‘star baker’, winning afternoon tea for two kindly donated by Coombe Abbey.
Next was the highly anticipated artwork competition for the people we support. This was based around all things Warwickshire and judged by the invited commissioners. Will, one of the people we support, won a £20 voucher for his winning effort, but wasn’t there to accept his prize as he suffers from social anxiety. But when his support worker rang him with the news he’d won, he grabbed his shoes and made it to the event, bubbling with excitement and a smile that beamed from ear to ear.
As well as this, there was face-painting, a tasty buffet, inventive games with prizes donated by local businesses and even a disco so people could belt out The Greatest Showman all night long! Most importantly though, a number of awards were given out to staff as voted for by their peers, the people we support and their families, in a similar way to the coveted Voyage Excellence Awards. Sophie added:
“These were added because we have outstanding members of staff and we wanted them to feel a sense of achievement and recognition that they may not have otherwise received.”
Communi-TEA award winners
Comments from people we support, families and peers
|Support worker of the year||John Taylor||‘John works very well with the people we support and will work anywhere within the Warwickshire DCA and he always brings a positive attitude to the work environment.’|
|Field support supervisor of the year||
‘Lisa goes the extra mile to support her staff and people we support and will go on shifts to help out. She is reliable and trustworthy and she is good at her job’
‘Thomas is always willing to assist others and has an understanding nature for the staff team’
|The staff member who is most flexible||Teresa Bloore||‘Teresa is always willing to support the service when we are short staffed’|
The staff member who always acts with integrity and is a team player
|Angela Kemp||‘Angela is the kindest person you could ever meet, she will always go out her way to be helpful to everyone’|
|The staff member who always goes the extra mile||Steve Johnson||‘Steve is always there if you need support, he is really good with us and we can have a laugh with him’|
The support worker or manager who always makes you laugh and empowers you
|Catherine Selby||‘Nothing is ever too much for Catherine, she never moans and she is funny!’|
|Most supportive and caring support worker or manager||Lucy Downing-Prince||‘Lucy is always there for me no matter what!’|
Each winner received a certificate and a day full of celebration, dancing and fun was had by all - they even managed to raise £42 for our chosen charity of the year Headway!
The team are hoping that this is the start of something very positive that could branch out to other regions to give staff that well-deserved boost that they may need, and are planning to do the same thing again next year.
“If anyone was thinking about doing something similar, I would say go for it – it’s so worth it! Seeing the people we support, their families and staff enjoying themselves was more than I ever could have hoped for,” beamed Sophie.
Congratulations to all of the well-deserved winners and everyone involved in the CommuniTEA event. You did a fantastic job in reminding our incredible and passionate staff just how amazing they truly are and we can’t wait to see what will come of this!