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National awards recognise Highland home care business

By Calum MacLeod

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Carolanne Mainland, HCC director of operations.
Carolanne Mainland, HCC director of operations.

Highland Home Carers (HHC) is celebrating after the social care provider was selected as a finalist in three categories at the Scottish Care Awards 2020, with director of operations, Carolanne Mainland, going on to win the coveted positive impact award.

Ms Mainland was recognised as one of the leading homecare employees in Scotland at the prestigious awards ceremony celebrating the contribution of homecare staff before and during the coronavirus pandemic. Her award was announced at an online ceremony hosted by presenter, columnist and Pop Idol winner, Michelle McManus.

Ms Mainland, who joined HHC in 2018, was singled out at the annual awards ceremony for chairing daily covid resilience meetings of HHC’s organisational leadership team, navigating the care provider through the extremely challenging issues of PPE and anxiety associated with Covid whilst also carrying out risk assessments and playing a key role in getting colleagues who had been shielding back to work - all whilst she too was shielding.

“I am of course thrilled to have my personal commitment to care recognised but I am also feeling slightly humble,” she said.

“Right now there are untold millions of Carers, paid and unpaid, across the globe doing what they do best in these unparalleled times.”

Congratulating her, Gillian Murphy, head of operations at HHC, said: “Since joining Highland Home Carers, Carolanne has been instrumental in helping us putting the people we support at the heart of everything we do. She leads by example and has reorganised the operational team to better deliver a quality service. Carolanne can always find a solution to a problem, often thinking outside the box to come up with innovative solutions. She draws on her wealth of experience and contacts regularly to support us through the most challenging times.”

Ms Mainland was also praised for her support of a very vulnerable service user with complex learning difficulties whose routine and normal activities has been altered due to lockdown resulting in normally challenging behaviour becoming extremely challenging and distressing behaviour.

The awards, which were part of the recent annual Festival of Care at Home and Support also saw HHC shortlisted in the management and leadership and care learning categories. The care provider, which is Scotland’s largest employee-owned company, was the only Highland organisation to be listed amongst the finalists.

Bec Nicholson and her support dog, Gregg.
Bec Nicholson and her support dog, Gregg.

HHC trainer for culture of care and person centred care, Bec Nicholson, was shortlisted in the care learning category. The wheelchair user draws on her personal experience of growing up and living with cerebal palsy in her her course design and delivery and has been hailed as an ambassador for the entire care sector. She is accompanied on a daily basis by her assist dog, Gregg.

Assistant service manager Tina Simpson, was shortlisted in the management and leadership category for demonstrating a high level of leadership among her peers and the additional efforts she has made to support a client with motor neuron disease (MND).

When the client's speech began to deteriorate, she contacted a MND specialist nurse and speech therapist to research the best way to assist the client in communicating. This came in the form of a letter board and Ms Simpson spent time with all carers and family members teaching them to use the board by looking for signs through facial expression and eyes as to what letter the client was picking. She later went to the client’s nursing home and taught the staff how to use the letter board and continued to support the client, attending reviews and using the letter board to allow the clients to have a say about their own care.

HHC support workers Alexsandra Olejnik and Danny De Leest, who work as part of a small team supporting a service user with profound disabilities and complex needs in the Leachkin area of Inverness, were also put forward for the carer of the year award.

When the client began displaying signs of Covid-19 in March, a GP advised self-isolation for 14 days. Ms Olejnik, who was on shift, immediately volunteered to remain with the client, who needs 24 hour support, for the entire 14 days. Due to the high level of support required for the client, a second staff member was required to work, and Mr De Leest immediately volunteered.

The selfless act saw the pair separated from partners and families for the 14 day period before then having to self-isolate at home for a further seven days. During the initial two week isolation the pair took turns providing the client’s overnight care and caught up with sleep on blow up beds.

HHC assistant service manager Hilary Prosser said: “Aleksandra and Danny were vital in ensuring the risk of a potential Covid outbreak was contained to one property and protected the other Clients, all of whom are extremely vulnerable and at high risk of contracting the disease.

“Both staff went above and beyond their job role and put their own health and the health of their family at risk in order to contain a potential outbreak which could have affected their colleagues and the local community.

“Throughout the current pandemic the team have come up with innovative ideas to ensure the client is able to enjoy a high quality of life. For example, Danny arranged for a local delivery of 'afternoon tea' which the client enjoyed in her own garden.

“Aleksandra and Danny delivered support in a professional manner with a great sense of humour, remaining in contact with management and showing initiative in coming up with ideas to reduce the risk of boredom both for themselves and the client."

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