This year’s impact report focusses on how we, as an organisation working in social care and supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our communities, have lived and worked together during the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is remarkable how we achieved so much, and I am sure you will be amazed by everyone’s stories of resilience and creativity.
Not only did we accept the challenges, but we learned along the way – making for a more positive future for us all. From introducing technology, to spending quality time with each other without distractions, our values and relationships only grew.
I want to say thank you to our staff who have been, and always are, brilliant. To the people we support and their families – your energy and wisdom continues to motivate us each and every day. You are our past, and you are helping us create our future.
Finally, to our Board of Directors who, throughout the year, supported us all to be at our best. Thank you. I am very excited and looking forward to working with you to bring all our shared ambitions and ideas to life in our next three year strategic plan.
Our work starts right now.
Watch the video to meet Bruce
and learn about Creative Carr Gomm
As a group, we re-lived many happy memories together; sharing lots of laughter to help people feel special and valued.
Service Manager – Forth Valley
The first lockdown was a tough time for everyone, but our festival brought back a little happiness and fun.
Service Manager – Dundee
Studies show that creative people are better able to live with uncertainty because they can adapt their thinking to allow for the flow of the unknown. As we navigated the challenges of both supporting people and working through various lockdowns, Carr Gomm championed creativity like never before. Here are some of the creative projects we are extra proud of:
We launched a new initiative called Creative Carr Gomm to encourage creativity amongst people supported and staff. This provided helpful hints and tips, competitions, fun ideas, and a sense of togetherness and collaboration. Although introduced to help combat boredom in lockdown, its success means it’s here to stay.
Lockdown meant that many older people felt even lonelier than before. When safe to do so, we organised a number of get-togethers to reminisce about good memories. It was such a powerful thing, and a great way for people to reconnect and get to know each other again.
With most normal spring activities off the cards, our wonderful team in Dundee organised a socially distanced garden festival. It was a fantastic day filled with laughter, fun, and joy.
The pandemic forced us to consider different ways of communicating and working together, and many working groups were formed to support our new normal. One such team was our Communications & Engagement Group (C&E).
C&E brought together people who would not have met otherwise. As a practitioner, lone working during the pandemic felt very isolating at times. Since joining the group, I feel more connected and can share my perspective from the front line with the wider organisation.
Lead Practitioner – Stirling Visiting Service
The group has been a wonderful way to bring people together from across the organisation who are responsible for communicating about Carr Gomm – and those interested in helping improve how we communicate. It’s been a much needed creative space. We’ve been able to share and coordinate activities to keep our people connected and engaged during lockdown, as well as agree activity that will improve how we communicate and engage with our audience and showcase the great work we do.
Operations Manager for Business Development
C&E has been hugely beneficial over the past year. Everyone brought different ideas and experiences that helped projects get off the ground or improved engagement. It’s allowed us to problem solve complex ideas, and the group is very supportive when we come together.
Nadia Ben Said
Service Manager – Compliance, Administration and IT
A much loved staple of our internal communications, we changed the newspaper to include more personal stories and images.> Find out more
We developed our first in-depth marketing strategy; looking towards a bigger and better future in social care understanding and awareness.
As our team moved online, we simplified the intranet to make key procedures and forms easier to find.
We built stronger relationships with services across Scotland; helping us share more relevant local and regional stories.
Listen to our team pitch weekly content ideas:
– Regional Operations Manager
Research has been carried out in partnership with nine Carr Gomm services, with pilot projects currently in motion.
Digital inclusion is the process of working with people and communities to ensure they can get online. It is made up of three key components:
Each pilot is supported by a team of digital ambassadors; support practitioners who are passionate about supporting people, and their teams, to become digitally connected.
We asked people supported and staff to tell us how this initiative helped change their lives. Here, our support practitioners tell us more about the impact of this project.
I support a young lady who fled domestic violence, and so was completely new to our area. She was isolated and nervous about going out. To help keep her safely connected with family, we provided an iPad and MiFi. With access to online community hubs like Jean’s Bothy, she has been able to build new social connections and feel safe doing so.
A person I support usually never misses the Edinburgh Fringe. It’s an important part of her year. As things continued to be more digitally led in 2021, we embraced the internet to download tickets and watch shows live and on demand, in the comfort of her home.
Supporting people to develop digital skills so that they can lead online social events like weekly sing-a-longs, quizzes, and cooking sessions.
Supporting people who communicate in non-traditional ways to take part in online social events like dancing, singing, and playing instruments.
How can people be supported to further develop their digital skills and connect with the service digitally?
Argyll & Bute
To encourage digital independence of people supported, staff have access to a bank of tablets that they can take along to support visits.
Argyll & Bute
Using the internet to find new hobbies and interests that people supported and staff can share with each other during respite sessions.
Supporting people to develop digital skills so that they can find out more about their hobbies and interests, and connect with their community virtually.
Supporting people to explore their hobbies and interests, and manage their health and wellbeing through using the internet (e.g., YouTube workout videos, dancing to music).
Finding out what people think about getting online and what type of support they would like Carr Gomm to offer to help them get online.
To encourage digital independence of people supported, staff have access to a bank of tablets that they can take along to support visits.
The initial phase of this innovative research project will conclude later in 2021. Learnings are helping us shape our digital support offering, ensuring that digital connection is no longer seen as optional, but instead as a fundamental human right.
Watch the video to meet staff who have completed their SVQs
We embraced and championed different types of training to better equip our staff to continue to meet the changing requirements of people These stories show that we continued to work practically to change lives for the better.
We’ve supported Vicky for almost two years now. She’s 21, loves her independence, and shares a flat with others in Edinburgh. She also experiences deaf-blindness.
Being deafblind is recognised as a unique disability in its own right. It doesn’t necessarily mean that a person is fully deaf or fully blind. Much of Vicky’s support is sensory, with touch and movement playing a crucial role in helping her communicate what she wants and needs.
Vicky prefers to communicate through touch sign. It’s a method of communication that’s often used by people who have both a hearing loss and sight impairment.
Her support practitioners, like Naomi, learned touch sign to offer support in a way that’s meaningful to Vicky. They also created a range of sensory activities to support Vicky’s language development, cognitive growth, motor skills, problem solving skills, and social interaction.
Talking Mats is used to assist people with communication difficulties. The tool helps people express their views and make decisions about things that matter to them, such as power of attorney conversations, or how they would like to spend their day.
Because we support a wide range of people, this training has had a huge impact within our services. Choice is a value that we always aim to uphold, and by training staff to use the tool, we ensure that people supported always have an opportunity to communicate their choices with minimal stress.
Training was straightforward and took place in an open setting where I received feedback on my work. It’s not a pass/fail exam; instead regular feedback was given to help me improve.
Service Manager, Highland
Our Autism Training, Learning, and Support Group (ATLAS) provides training to teams across the organisation who support individuals with autism, like James, focussing on supporting healthy lives, choice and control, independence, and active citizenship.
James moved into his first home in 2017, with his life dramatically improved ever since. He is finally living the life he wants and is happy in his own home.
He is enjoying things both he and his family never thought possible, including building model trains and going to music events.
His sister feels it’s because his team understand her brother’s needs and acknowledge his choices.
James is mostly able to communicate when something is bothering him. His team have adapted their approach, delivering calm and relaxed support. There is time to listen, to provide reassurance, process thoughts, and help James when he feels anxious or overwhelmed.
She recently undertook training, alongside her colleague Laura, to enhance the support we provide to a number of vulnerable older people in their own homes – with about 60% suffering some form of dementia.
“Dementia Interpreter training is about learning the language of dementia for every individual and translating that for the other people in their lives. People with dementia often don’t communicate as they used to, so we look at their behaviours and interpret those as their way of communicating. Having a better understanding means we can support people in living a better quality of life.”
“This training is quite new, but it’s important as one in three people will live with some sort of dementia in their lifetime. It can be a dreadful thing, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have good quality of life.”
“If we have an improved understanding, we can find ways to communicate better with the person. This reduces everyone’s stress and ensures we are delivering support correctly, the person feels listened to, and their rights and needs are met.”
Suzanne and Laura will now train other colleagues to be dementia interpreters. All will have access to an online resource, the Dementia Dictionary, which allows people around the world to share learnings and interpretations of behaviours of those with dementia. Suzanne has two of her interpretations in the dictionary already.
Watch the video to explore our values in practice
Through an organisation-wide conversation, we introduced three additional values:
With our core values in mind, this year saw people reach out and connect with others in new ways; and communities come together with empathy, kindness, and compassion to support one another. Although these are new to our value base, they are not new to the way we have always worked and continue to work – and it has been more important than ever before to recognise and emphasise our values.
The Carr Gomm values are important to me as they help us to work in a person-centered way, while also facilitating good conversations in order to find out what matters to people supported.
Learning & Development Manager
East of Scotland
To me, empathy and kindness are about being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and show that you care. Not only through words, but also through action. I believe Carr Gomm has bundles of empathy and kindness for people supported and each other.
Fundraising Officer and former support practitioner
It’s important to me to be working for an organisation that has such strong values. I see and feel Carr Gomm’s values in everything we do, and aim to develop staff’s understanding of these.
Moving online due to lockdown, the programme was completed by a record number of staff, most of whom are now accompanying people supported to complete the modules – all of which are 100% person-centred and tailored to each individual.
Our goal is to empower people to make better, informed, healthier-living related choices – backed by science, expertise and, of course, a passion to provide the best possible support we can in achieving personal outcomes.
Health by Science also ran bimonthly webinars targeted at improving health and wellbeing across the organisation. These continue to be available to all staff and people supported, and aim to address specific problems faced by people when trying to improve their own health and wellbeing.
In autumn 2020, Graham participated in the healthy living and wellbeing programme. Graham has always been active and keen to make healthy lifestyle choices, having been interested in sport from a young age, playing football, tennis and badminton.
While Graham was excited about the project, he was also apprehensive about how he would manage different exercises due to his physical disability. However, he and Ross (health coach) were able to create and adapt a range of exercise routines that were tailored perfectly to his capabilities.
It was great to see how much Graham enjoyed the course and how his self- confidence and motivation grew so considerably and quickly. In the past, he had felt nervous and insecure about leaving the house, so to know that he now loves jogging every morning is just brilliant.
Graham’s support worker
Gaynor recently completed the Health by Science programme. She really loved going to the studio and carrying out her sessions with Jamie (health coach). He even incorporated balloons into the workout – Gaynor loves balloons!
Gaynor has since purchased some light-weight dumbbells and continues to do her sit-to-stand exercises three times a day.
Gaynor enjoys doing these exercises, and I think they have really helped her strength, which in turn has made things like getting out of the bath, or climbing stairs easier. Gaynor now also has homemade smoothies a few times a week, which she thoroughly enjoys making and drinking! We plan to carry the things that we all learned at Health by Science into the future.
Gaynor’s support worker
To champion alternative travel modes, we began trialling brand new electric cargo bikes. Part of an innovative pilot project in Mid-Argyll, the bikes are a great zero carbon alternative to small cars and vans, helping us reduce our carbon footprint, and keep healthy all at the same time.
David Halfpenny, our Learning & Development Manager in Argyll, talked to us about the initiative:
Tell us about the project?
We have been considering introducing different modes of transport for our support practitioners for a while now.
The pandemic meant that our conversations gathered pace, and we partnered with both the Argyll and the Isles Coast and Countryside Trust and Cycling UK to develop a pilot project that supports our Lochgilphead care-at-home service.
What about its impact on staff and people supported?
We are seeing both the direct environmental impact of fewer vehicles on the road, but also the health benefits to staff. As we learn more about e- bikes, we hope to be able to offer similar opportunities to people supported in Argyll and further afield.
We’re soon to begin a similar project on the Isle of Bute via the Cycling UK Shift Grant.
We’re soon to begin a similar project on the Isle of Bute via the Cycling UK Shift Grant, and we’ll be monitoring both take up and journeys over the next year, working with a Cycling UK Development Officer to listen and learn.
“I can often start work at 7am. By 9pm, at the end of a split shift, my last visit is at the top of a hill. You can imagine the difference the e-bike has made to my journey.
If a visit runs over time, I can quickly get to my next person. I no longer need to rely on colleagues for transport, and I am more flexible as a result.”
Sarah Taylor Support
Practitioner – Lochgilphead
Our organisational change-makers shared their knowledge to help shape a stronger, more collaborative social care environment for us all.
From our involvement in key consultations, to supporting new initiatives, we continued to provide insight gained through lived experience.
This year, we were proud to collaborate with Social Work Scotland, local and national government partners, and other third sector organisations to develop the Framework of SDS Standards.
Self-Directed Support (SDS) aims to give people the opportunity to take control of their support and their lives. It is the mainstream way of accessing social care support in Scotland.
We submitted our opinions, perspectives and recommendations to the Independent Review of Adult Social Care consultation, undertaken by Derek Feeley.
Many of the Feeley report’s recommendations aligned with Carr Gomm’s overarching principles and standards. As a charity with human rights practices at the heart of everything we do, we advocate for a person-centred approach industry-wide.
Cara was nominated by Carr Gomm to represent the Coalition of Care and Support providers (CCPS) as one of the four social care workers to meet Kevin Stewart, the Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care.
She shared her experiences from social care’s frontline, talking specifically about the pandemic and its devastating impact on both people supported and staff.
It was a great honour to speak with the Minister. Along with discussing the pandemic, I also spoke about the need to encourage people to consider support work as a fulfilling career, and not just a short-term job. It’s something I feel passionately about, and there was agreement across the room.
Lead practitioner and social influencer
As our involvement influencer and change-maker, Becs continues to lead our commitment to involving people in creative and meaningful ways.
I am driven by a desire to make our society fairer. Whilst many of us dream of this, the reality of equitable social care can be very different. By spending time with policy- makers and others passionate about social justice, we can make positive changes. Through us involving the people we support, they can also have a say in important conversations, like the National Care Service debate.
Operations Manager: Involvement, Quality and Innovation
We continued to engage people supported throughout Carr Gomm in the decisions and conversations put forward by the organisation. The National Involvement Group acted as a sounding board, guiding on topics that impacted the wide diaspora of people across our network.
We asked group members to share why being involved in a pandemic year has been especially important to them.
Our involvement champions are staff who got together to problem solve and champion involvement in their local services and communities.
We have over 20 involvement champions:
Team Glasgow getting ready to embark on a new challenge
Fast forward a year and our organisation has grown and adapted in ways we probably wouldn’t have thought possible. We feel inspired by the abundance of new online activities and events; all created to help people feel connected at a time when it was difficult to be together.
Care Planner is our rota planning tool, which also stores staff training records. It communicates with PASS, a system that allows electronic recording of all care and support records – from support plans, outcomes, medication, and daily notes.
Paul tells us about the progress of Care Planner and Pass since its inception.
What has happened in a year with Care Planner and PASS?
The focus over the last year has been on training and supporting services to embed PASS, but done in a timescale of their choosing. This reduced the pressure on busy services with other priorities (especially with the continuing pandemic), and allowed other services to get ahead.
How has it changed the way our staff work?
Where PASS has been embedded in a service, paper systems have been reduced, with electronic recording of care and support records increasing. There is a greater focus on outcomes in people’s support. Time spent travelling back to the office to write up someone’s notes can be used differently.
Have you had any feedback from people supported and their families?
PASS is useful for making people’s outcomes front and centre. One service, through having more awareness of an individual’s outcomes, was better able to support Ailsa to have contact with her sister, who stays in Australia.
“Thanks to everyone for the regular updates and photos, I feel I am part of Ailsa’s life again even though I am on the other side of the world!”
Having real time access and an overview of personal support records that can be edited from a mobile app have effectively enabled the transition from office to agile working in community-based settings during the pandemic.
Lead Support Practitioner – Glasgow
All information regarding peoples’ support arrangements are in one place and very accessible. Being able to set up tasks and alerts has been really beneficial in ensuring support tasks are not missed or forgotten.
Service Manager – Forth Valley
We love Pass and use it for things including medication, file notes, and outcomes. Some staff who struggled with our previous system seem to be grasping this very well.
Service Manager – Edinburgh
I feel it’s good as it is always ‘up to the minute’ and staff can view it at any point without leaving the person they are supporting. It’s also good if someone is admitted to hospital as all the relevant information is available.
Service Manager – Forth Valley
For managing a service it makes information more accessible. I can check outcomes are being updated, and read file notes instantly. It allows us to see errors and react immediately, rather than the risk of finding out about it later. I feel I have more control over the day to day running of the service, and can undertake audits more easily.
Operations Manager – Highland
This pandemic year has shown us just how important our work is and continues to be. Not only do we provide critical social care services across Scotland, but we also fundraise to support people most at risk of loneliness and isolation. In 2020-21, we pulled together like never before. Without the Carr Gomm team, people supported, and our supporters and funders - our work simply wouldn't be possible. So, here's to you. You're all fabulous.