Celebrating Volunteers’ Week 2021

Each year, the first week of June marks Volunteers’ Week and a time to say thank you for the valuable contribution volunteers make within our communities and our organisations.

Volunteers have played a key role in the pandemic response and during what has been an exceptionally difficult year, people from all walks of life around the UK have taken the time to make a huge difference to their communities.

Unfortunately, in line with government and health guidelines, our day care centres were closed for much of 2020, opening briefly at the end of September until Christmas and then closed again until March. Whilst we are currently operating on limited days, with the superb roll-out programme of the vaccine, together with the extra measures we have in place to ensure our buildings are Covid-safe, we are hoping that as our customers feel more confident in leaving their homes, we will soon be able to resume our services five days a week.

We haven’t been able to welcome our volunteers back just yet but are delighted to have caught up with a few of them to find out what they have been up to in the last year to help those in their communities.

Volunteer Lorraine, who runs the Meet up Monday’s group at Brandon Day Centre, has herself been shielding but has been keeping in regular contact by telephone with some of her group members to check on their wellbeing and to provide a friendly voice. She told us that since starting the Meet up Monday’s group, she had become good friends with those who attend and wanted to ensure they weren’t feeling too isolated and that it was really nice to have a regular chat and general catch up.

Lorraine is eager to get the group restarted and is looking forward to welcoming her friends back very soon.

As well as volunteering at Brandon Day Centre a couple of days a week, Alice is usually very active in her local community, helping out with different groups and clubs. Unfortunately, with most activities on hold at the moment, Alice hasn’t been able to do as much as she’d like to but has kept herself busy by contributing a Brandon & District Garden Club article each month within the local magazine, Brandon Life.

Alice is very much looking forward to getting out and about again and to returning to Brandon Day Centre in the near future.

Stephanie, one of our team of volunteers at All Hallows Day Centre, has been busy spending time as a telephone befriender in her local community and is also looking forward to resuming her volunteering role with us at the day centre very soon.

Whilst we are celebrating the excellent contribution our volunteers make, special recognition goes to Janet who sadly passed away recently. Janet had been volunteering at Brandon Day Centre for over 20 years, giving her time so generously twice a week to support our day care team and to spend time with our day care service users. Janet particularly enjoyed taking part in quizzes and listening to people. She was always aware that whilst some people make new friends easily, there was always someone with whom she could build a rapport and spend quality time with to build their confidence. Janet was much loved and will be remembered fondly for her service and dedication.

Sally Hanlin, managing director said, “We are so grateful to our loyal group of volunteers who give their time and energy so freely to our service users. They are very valued members of the Empanda team and with COVID-19 restrictions now easing, we are very much looking forward to welcoming them back into our services.”

Empanda celebrates five years

At a time when so many businesses face an uncertain future we are delighted to be celebrating our fifth Anniversary.

Whilst five years is a long time, it seems like only yesterday that we started on this new venture. We are indebted to our staff team, our volunteers and our Board who without doubt, have made a huge contribution towards making Empanda the success it is today. Their passion and commitment never cease to amaze us – even more so during this past year.

Covid-19 has had a massive impact on the care and support sector and our staff teams have worked tirelessly to overcome the many challenges they have faced to keep themselves and our service users safe and happy. We are extremely lucky to have such a wonderful team.

Thanks also go to the many partners with whom we work. Again, we couldn’t have done it without them.

We will be publishing our five-year review in the Summer, but below you can see a snapshot of our performance so far.

We are very much looking forward to continuing our journey and to finding out what the next five years will bring.

Empanda team choose new core values

As we approach our fifth Anniversary, we have been reflecting on Empanda’s progress since our inception on 1 April 2016 and how the organisation has evolved during that time. We felt the timing was perfect to consult our staff team to come up with some core values they felt epitomised Empanda not only as a business, but as an employer and service provider.

Our new values, as chosen by the staff team will become part of our culture. They are already embedded into our everyday working practices and promoted widely across the organisation to ensure we don’t lose sight of what we believe in and to help us maintain our integrity and passion for what we do by living up to our values every day.

 

 

 

Empanda supports EACH at Christmas

We would like to say a huge thank you to the Empanda staff team who voted to support East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) with money saved by sending an e-Christmas card instead of buying and posting traditional paper cards. Staff were given the opportunity to choose a charity close to their own hearts, and out of the 16 charities nominated, EACH was the firm favourite. We were delighted to be able to send a £200 donation which has meant so much to the charity. We have since heard how our gift will help to support children, young people and their families living with life-threatening conditions.

In a letter from Billie Race, Corporate Fundraiser, she said, ‘Thank you so much for your generous donation in support of East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices and for thinking of us, particularly at this time of year. Your kind donation is very much appreciated and will help us continue to care for and support children, young people and their families living with life-threatening conditions. After a very difficult year, we’ve never needed more support, so this is much appreciated’

EACH offers care and support for children and young people with life-threatening conditions and support families across Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk. EACH’s services are aimed at making the most of life no matter how short it may be and include short break care; family support; bereavement support; end-of-life care; specialist play care; a range of therapies for the children including hydro, music and physio; 24-hour telephone support and symptom management support and advice.

Click here to find out more about the tremendous work being done every day by EACH and how you can help support them.

Season’s Greetings from Empanda

At the end of what has been a particularly difficult and challenging year for everyone, we would like to wish our Empanda customers, website visitors, our partners, supporters, suppliers, colleagues, family and friends a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year.

Thank you for your support this year and we look forward to working with you again in 2021.

Special delivery from the Canaries

A huge thank you to the Canaries COVID-19 Community Support Project for putting a smile on the faces of our tenants, respite guests and staff at Oak Trees in Attleborough when they recently dropped by to deliver some special goodies, including a signed Norwich City Football Club shirt, a delicious cake and some drinks.

At a time when many of our tenants and respite guests with learning disabilities feel very isolated from the world, a gesture such as this means so much. As soon as we are able, we will get the shirt framed and have already agreed on where it will be hung with pride. It will be a constant reminder of all those caring people in our community who are thinking of others at such a challenging time and who bring a smile to the faces of so many.

The Canaries COVID-19 Community Support Project has been set up to support people in Norfolk to respond and recover from the crisis.

Norwich City Football Club players, senior staff, owners and directors have each donated to the project, raising over £200k plus gift aid which is being used in a number of ways to provide support to the community, working with several partners.

The project has three core objectives:

  • Supporting fans where necessary and undertake community engagement initiatives
  • Support the most vulnerable in their wider community by working with local charities and local authorities and community groups
  • Support the NHS and carers to help them do their job

We are extremely grateful to be one of the beneficiaries of the Canaries COVID-19 Community Support Project. The gifts meant so much to us all. Thank you.

 

Our first day at the Denny

We are delighted and proud to re-open the Denny Day Centre today, Tuesday 10 March.

After a long period of closure and a few hiccups along the way, our new care staff team, led by Day Care Services Manager Laura Edgar, welcomed new customers to the Centre.

Within a safe environment, they will be able to enjoy stimulating day care and the opportunity to have fun and take part in activities, which will help them to maintain skills whilst offering family carers a well-earned break.

Most importantly, the Denny Centre aims to help combat isolation, promote independence and improve wellbeing and will give those using the service the chance to socialise and make new friends.

On our first day, it didn’t take long for our new members to get into the swing of things. Pool was the activity chosen by Sheila, whilst Chris and Margaret opted for baking biscuits.

After a busy morning, our new members sat down to a lovely roast chicken lunch, followed by lemon cheesecake and cream.

Afternoon activities involved jigsaws and puzzles and before home time, we celebrated our first day with a fantastic cake made by Senior Catering Assistant Sue.

Care and Support Assistants Liz, Alicia, Harriet and Julie had a great first day and we hope that we gave our new members an enjoyable day and one to remember. We are looking forward to seeing everyone again and to welcoming new members.

If you would like more information on the Denny Centre, or if you, a relative or friend would like to spend time with us, please call Laura Edgar, Day Care Services Manager, on 01379 641064, or email her at daycare@empanda.org.uk.

 

 

An outstanding result for an outstanding service

Empanda Care & Support’s services for adults with a learning difficulty have been rated ‘Outstanding’ by national regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

As a registered provider, Empanda offers short respite stays to over 100 adults each year at Oak Trees in Attleborough, Norfolk, as well as personalised care and support to adults living in their own homes across Breckland and South Norfolk.

The service, which was inspected in December 2019, was rated ‘Outstanding’ for being safe, caring and well-led and ‘Good’ for being effective and responsive, giving Empanda an overall rating of ‘Outstanding’. This is only the second time the service has been inspected since Empanda took over in April 2016 (in 2017 we were rated as ‘Good’ across all five key lines of enquiry (KLOEs)). We had hoped that we might achieve one ‘Outstanding’ this time round, but not three! We are overjoyed at the Oak Trees team’s achievement.

The CQC report said that people were provided with flexible, responsive and person-centred care and praised staff for the high quality of service, their commitment, dedication, compassion and creativity; their open and inclusive ethos and well-established relationships of trust and support between staff, service users and their families, enabling people to stay safe.

Respite service user James Morgan (pictured left) said, “For the past few years that I’ve been going to Oak Trees, I have loved and still love every time that I get to go there. Ultimately, I feel really safe and protected when I’m there. Congratulations to Oak Trees Respite Care in Attleborough for receiving the highest of praise from the CQC.”

James’ mother, Jane added, “Oak Trees provides a welcoming home from home environment and my son loves staying there as he is well cared for and treated with respect. He always has a fun time and the bonus for us is that we don’t have to worry while he is away.”

A relative of supported living service user Adrian, said, “Oak Trees is a unique service where they are totally committed, treating everyone as a family member. My brother has not just been looked after by this amazing team, but has grown as an adult, has learned how to live with his wife almost independently, been encouraged to make his own decisions and helped to follow his dreams. They treat everyone using the service as equal citizens, value their opinions and their requests are met wherever possible.”

Jemima Burnage, CQC head of inspection for adult social care in the central region, said: “Inspectors saw Empanda Care & Support delivering care that was safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led at Oak Trees in Attleborough. People deserve to receive good care that meets their individual needs from staff who are compassionate when they use services, and it is clear that is what this service is doing.” She added, “The hard work of the staff working at this service is making a real difference to people. This is why we have rated it Outstanding.”

Kerrie Good, Director (Learning Difficulties) said, “I am extremely humbled and proud and want to thank all our tenants, our respite guests, their families, the Oak Trees staff team and all those professionals from health and social care who supported us during our most recent inspection and throughout the years. I would also like to thank all Empanda colleagues and volunteers for your continued support and we could not have done it without you. You are all such amazing people and we will continue to work hard to maintain, and maybe even exceed this incredible rating.”

If anyone is interested in finding out more about staying at Oak Trees Respite Service, please visit www.empanda.org.uk.

The full CQC report is available at www.cqc.org.uk

The magic of music and movement

At Brandon Day Centre, we recently welcomed some very special visitors to join us for our second mixed-generation music and movement workshop aimed at bringing fun and learning to physical activity.

Following the success of our first workshop ‘Splish, Splash, Splosh’, ‘Animal Magic’ allowed participants to explore their own unique ways of moving as they became the animals featured in the songs. Some tried out their chimp cha-cha-cha, others rocked like a rhino and some took on the characteristics of sharks, mice and other creatures from the animal kingdom.

Music and dance are such simple ways to bring people together. It doesn’t matter what age or ability, as people begin to move, you can feel the energy levels in the room lift. As they hear a beat or remember lyrics from days gone by, you can see moods lighten and a sparkle creep into eyes. As well as the great benefits of being more active, the real magic happens when participants talk, engage and laugh with each other. These workshops are a gentle way to bring different generations together who wouldn’t normally meet, offering them the opportunity to share ideas and experiences and have fun in a way that is completely new to them all.

At the end of the session, Jo told us, “When I think about the Animal Magic workshop, all I can see are the smiles! Staff, volunteers, children, parents and day centre members, all trying something new together – laughing, mixing and having fun! Bringing the community together in this way through music, movement and dance is inclusive and uplifting and can’t help but do everyone involved a little bit of good! Brandon Day Centre is in the heart of the community and is the perfect setting for such a joyful event. Many thanks to Empanda Care & Support for all their enthusiasm and backing in piloting the Dance Generation workshops.”

We are hoping to run more inter-generational dance workshops at Brandon Day Centre in the future. If you have young children and would like to take part and share this uplifting experience, please contact Jo at jonicholsdance@gmail.com, or call her on 07746 470774.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bloomin’ Marvellous

L to R: Jane, Kerrie and Adele

Oak Trees Respite Service for adults with a learning difficulty received a fantastic boost recently, when they received a special donation of £220 as a contribution towards an ongoing garden makeover project at the scheme.

The cheque was presented to Kerrie Good, Director (Learning Difficulties) by Adele, chair of the Wymondham Flower Club and Jane Morgan, mother of James who uses our Respite Service, from proceeds of a Christmas event organised by Jane and her mother Doris.

The presentation formed part of a flower arranging event in Costessey where guests enjoyed live demonstrations, as well as an insight into the skills, knowledge and techniques needed in the art of flower arranging.

Kerrie said, “Everyone was really welcoming. I was both amazed and fascinated by the skills on show by the demonstrator, it really is at art form.” She added, “I am humbled by everyone’s generosity and would like to extend a huge thank you to Doris and Jane for their continuing support of the Oak Trees Respite and Support Living Services. Their contributions really do make a huge difference to everyone using our services and for that, we are truly grateful.”