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
    14.

    “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
    problems.

    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
    says.

    “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
    will.

    “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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