A care team in Kidderminster, in the West Midlands, has fought off tough competition from across the country to be named ‘Supported Living Team of the Year’, and a care manager has clinched the ‘Making a Difference Award’ at the first ever virtual National Care Group Annual Awards.

Almost 1,400 National Care Group colleagues from across England and Wales tuned into the online event last night (Wed), which was hosted by radio and television presenter Jo Whiley, and broadcast live - marking the biggest celebratory event the company has ever had.

The team at Bewdley Grange, Endurance Care, part of the National Care Group, is made up of six people and led by team leader Wayne Richards and Kelly Smith, registered care manager. Together, they provide supported living to individuals with learning and physical disabilities as well as mental illness and autism spectrum disorders. The team has been recognised for enabling the people it supports to live as independently as possible by truly bringing the company value of collaboration to life and delivering outstanding service.

Bewdley Grange was a brand-new service set up in the pandemic with a new team – which quickly adapted to provide the best support.

Wayne said: “Our team was pulled together within an incredibly short time period of two weeks due to the closure of another facility, but as soon as we welcomed the people we support, it was as though we’d worked together for years. I’m so proud of everyone for what they’ve achieved and winning this award is a testament to all their hard work.

It was a big night for Bewdley Grange. Kelly Smith, who lives in Brierley Hill, also scooped the ‘Making a Difference’ award because of her commitment to her team and those she supports.

Kelly said: “It is an absolute honour to win this award and I’m in absolute shock. But this award isn’t just for me but for the whole team – everyone has worked together and have worked so hard for the people we support. I have so much support from my team and my managers which has a huge impact.”

James Allen, CEO of the National Care Group, said: “Wayne, Kelly and their team have done an incredible job supporting people with a wide range of learning disabilities and complex needs. The nominations we received for them detailed how there were initially some concerns as to whether the people they support would settle due to the move, but that these concerns were quickly dismissed thanks to the team. Feedback from relatives showed that these individuals had never been happier and that they were amazed by the progress they were making in such a short period of time. 

“Meanwhile, Kelly has been integral to so many of our central projects in the past year but has continued to provide exceptional care to the individuals she supports as well. At the beginning of the pandemic she spent a significant amount of time securing PPE for the region and implementing other measures to ensure the safety of everyone. Despite the challenges and pressures presented by the pandemic, her nominations describe how she kept spirits high by organising an ice cream truck and other initiatives for the people she supports, making her a worthy winner of our Making a Difference Award.” 

Awards were also presented to winners in a number of other categories, including:

·         Support Worker of the Year;

·         Manager of the Year;

·         Residential Team of the Year;

·         Support Function of the Year;

·         Newcomer of the Year; and,

·         Executive Board Award for Outstanding Achievement.

There was also a special award given for the ‘National Care Group’s Pandemic Star of the Year’, dedicated to, and in memory of, two colleagues who lost their lives to coronavirus, which was awarded following a live poll that took place during the event.

James added: “The theme for this year’s event was ‘unlocking your potential’ and all of our winners have not only done this for themselves but, crucially, have unlocked the potential of the individuals they support as well – and that’s at the heart of everything we do at the National Care Group.

“We were truly overwhelmed by the volume of nominations we received for this year’s awards, with more than 400 people placing their vote, meaning it was really difficult to choose the winners. We’ve seen some fantastic examples of innovation and ingenuity from so many people and, while it’s a shame we couldn’t celebrate their achievements in person, the fact the awards were virtual meant we were able to have more people join in the celebration than we could have otherwise. 

“Everyone who attended the awards ceremony was not only given the opportunity to dress to the nines, but also to share photos of themselves on social media with a prize for ‘best dressed’ being given out. In my eyes, that interactive and all-encompassing element has been the best thing about the whole event and we’re now in a really good place to look forwards as the sector continues to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic.”