More than 1,000 Care Pros Tune in to One-of-a-Kind Virtual Conference

NATIONAL Care Group, one of the UK’s leading providers of care and support services to vulnerable adults, brought together more than 1000 colleagues virtually last night (28 April), in what was the biggest celebratory event the company has ever held.

Hosted by radio and television presenter Jo Whiley and attended by Professor Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, the annual conference and awards were broadcast live to say a big ‘thank you’ to ‘ National Care Group’s colleagues across England and Wales for their hard work in challenging conditions during the coronavirus pandemic.

The group specialises in supporting vulnerable adults with a wide range of disabilities and needs through residential care, supported living, outreach and home support and day services. It put together a day of talks with leading industry voices, workshops, activities and even a virtual escape room – ending with an exciting black tie awards ceremony where nine winners were announced.

James Allen, CEO of National Care Group, said: “It has been a truly remarkable year, and one that I look back on with pride. Not just pride in what everyone has achieved but also how everyone has come together as a team to keep the individuals we support safe. We have a commitment to ensuring the people we look after live full and active lives, and our colleagues are an integral part of that.

“Despite the pandemic we have managed to move forward in so many ways and we wanted to acknowledge the hard work of everybody throughout the year. People have given up a lot of their own personal time and have been really flexible when it comes to working. So we’re happy to announce an extra day’s annual leave for colleagues in full-time posts and half a day for those in part-time roles who have been with us for three months or more, which we’re calling the ‘gift of time’.

“Securing Jo Whiley as the host for our event was a bit of a coup, and something I’m really pleased we were able to arrange. We had been discussing who we could ask to host and this was before she was in the news campaigning for people with learning disability to be prioritised for the vaccine. She’s a great fit with what we’re trying to achieve and it was a wonderful event enjoyed by all who attended.”

The theme for yesterday’s event was ‘unlocking your potential’, which not only applied to those working for the National Care Group but also to the individuals they support. It is at the heart of the group’s values of empowerment, passion, respect and collaboration.

Also taking part in the talks alongside James were people director Claire Leake, chief financial officer David Rowe-Bewick, quality director Mike Cleasby, commercial director Mike Ranson, chief operations officer Karen Lewis and National Care Group co-founder Jamil Mawji. The key-note speaker for the event was Professor Martin Green, chief executive of Care England and board member for the National Care Group.

Martin said: “It’s been an unprecedented year, we’ve not seen a pandemic of this nature since 1919, and we’ve found that health and social care has not only been on the frontline but has been absolutely central in keeping people safe at a time of crisis. However, we have also seen Covid-19 expose the fault lines, particularly between the NHS and social care providers.

“We’ve done a lot to raise the profile of social care and put it on the map during the pandemic. The people we support are valuable humans with the same rights as anyone else and, if it falls to us to advocate for them, we’re ready to step up to the mark and make sure these individuals are never ignored again. At the end of the day, information is power, and we want to transfer that power to the people we support and their families.

“I’m incredibly confident about the future, because I know every single National Care Group colleague is working tremendously hard to uphold our values and put the people we support at the forefront of everything we do. There’s more hard work to come, but the prize is worth fighting for, and there’s no doubt in my mind that we will achieve it.”

Rounding off the event was an awards ceremony for colleagues, where the following awards were given:

  • Support Worker of the Year;
  • Manager of the Year;
  • Residential Team of the Year;
  • Supported Living Team of the Year;
  • Support Function of the Year;
  • Newcomer of the Year;
  • Making a Difference Award; 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.

Organisers sent out special conference packs containing gifts, props and costume items to wear such as bow ties and tiaras – to give an element of fun.

James added: “The past year has seen us support an increasing number of individuals, enhance our learning and development opportunities and we’ve also been fortunate enough to open a number of new services across the country. This event has been the perfect way to round off the past twelve months and, although it was a shame that we couldn’t celebrate our achievements in person, going virtual meant we were able to have more people join in the celebrations than we could have otherwise.

“Now the focus shifts to the future, it was good to share our expectations for next year and for the whole team to know that we will be constantly reviewing how we deliver services to the people we support, making sure that we’re in tune with their dreams and aspirations. It’s my personal hope that people will feel that we are growing together and that they take pride in working for the National Care Group.”