Carers in the night

“Not one of us will ever forget that day” says Janice Howarth,
team manager of Blackpool Council’s Primary Night Care Service. The
day she’s talking about is 15 December when her team left London’s
Park Lane Hilton as winners of the older people’s category at the
Community Care Awards.

The Primary Night Care Service opened in October 2003 with a
staff of just six. Its aim was to provide night time pop-in visits
of around half an hour for both planned and emergency cover
providing a range of personal and practical care tasks. It also
wanted to forge closer links with other professionals such as
social workers, district nurses, paramedics and the primary care
trust professionals.

It succeeded on both fronts and, just over two years on, the
number of staff working on the project has more than doubled to

“On any night there are two pairs of staff on duty together with
a back up worker and they are delivering planned care from
referrals from social workers and responding to emergency calls
from paramedics, district nurses and GPs,” Howarth says. “We want
to help people live as independently as is possible and to avoid
the need for people to be admitted to hospital,” she adds.

Service users are enthusiastic about the project. “We have had
quite a few people tell us that if it weren’t for the Night Care
Service they would have had to go in to a home,” she says. It has
also been well received by district nurses and paramedics who say
that it has enabled them to concentrate on dealing with medical

The team is also able to offer a lifeline to carers. “We have
one disabled young man whose carer is his mum. She was finding she
was on call 24 hours a day and we have been able to go in to look
after him, which means she can get a full night’s sleep,” Howarth

“We are looking to see if we can get some extra funding from
health to develop a team of six workers to work with the district
nurse and a social care worker to work towards integrated working
to provide a seamless service.”

Howarth says the staff are the key to the project’s success.
“Our staff are brilliant and are committed to the service.”

The awards ceremony, she says, was: “absolutely wonderful. We
had never done anything like this before and didn’t know what to
expect – we were so proud just to have been shortlisted.

“When it was announced that we had won, to be honest I was
shellshocked – although absolutely ecstatic as well. You believe in
your services, but I hadn’t expected to win in the face of such
stiff competition,” she says.
A party is planned soon to officially thank all the staff and to
celebrate their success. Looking to the future, the team has used
some of the awards money to buy a mobile hoist, and will probably
buy more equipment if the service expands, as Howarth hopes it

“Most nights we are responding to some sort of emergency, so
there is a real need for this service to be developed. I would like
to see this sort of service on offer in all social services
departments,” she says.  Sentiments that were echoed by one of the
award judges who said: “This sort of service should be available
everywhere – especially in my home town!”

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