Tell your story with Paul Cullis

Here’s Paul Cullis with his Somerset Care story, Paul retired as Interim Assistant Director of Residential Services last month after almost 40 years of working for the company!

Paul Cullis

I commenced employment with Somerset County Council as a Trainee Residential Social Worker on 1st June 1974. The following year I joined the Social Services Relief Team and this gave me the opportunity of working in all the residential provisions, from day nurseries and children’s homes to care homes for older people. I stayed on the Relief Team for nearly fifteen years, relishing the variety and new challenges and always thought it was an excellent grounding for me in later life.

Following my time of the Relief Team, I took up post as Deputy Manager at Oak Trees and subsequently moved to Frith House and eventually became Manager at a time of major redevelopment, which proved an interesting and exciting experience. My next move brought me to Central Office as an Operations Manager and the opportunity to revisit many of the homes where I had worked years before on the Relief Team.

After almost forty years in the sector, I have seen many changes, I have seen enormous development of services and facilities which have improved beyond recognition. What hasn’t changed is the vast amount of dedicated skilled people, delivering fantastic care every day of the year.

I will miss my colleagues at Somerset Care; it is a wonderful and well respected company. I have many happy memories of service users over the years that I have had the priviledge to meet and play a part in their care.

I feel ready to move into the next stage of my life and I have a number of tasks and hobbies which I now hope I will have the time to enjoy.

From everyone at Somerset Care we will Paul a very long and happy retirement!

Delicious Digg Facebook LinkedIn reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Email Print Friendly

Be Healthy

We have been really busy developing our new ‘Be Healthy’ campaign for all staff. This exciting new initiative was launched to the Managers, with the first challenge, ‘Be the cracker not the pud’ Christmas pedometer challenge. 47 Managers across The Somerset Care Group took part in the challenge and between them took  6,565,832.02 steps which means they walked a total of 13,210 miles!

Be Healthy

Staff received a launch bag and were asked to complete a health survey to establish the full health extent of our workforce, ensuring that we can tailor our campaign to our staffs’ needs.

Throughout the year the campaign will cover the following areas:

  • Healthy eating
  • Getting active
  • Health care
  • Emotional well-being

Within each area we hope to provide staff with access to information, advice and support, interactive challenges, competitions and many more exciting things!

Delicious Digg Facebook LinkedIn reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Email Print Friendly

Not another care handbook

Managers across the care industry are really excited about a new book called ‘Not another care handbook: Pearls of wisdom for care managers’. The book features over a hundred key people in the care sector, including Somerset Care’s very own Sue Baverstock!

Sue Baverstock

The aim of the book is to inform care home managers on important issues affecting care homes and each chapter has been summarised into 10 key points. Edited by Dr Richard Hawkins, Editor-in-chief of Caring Times, the book features a foreword by Barbara Pointon, patron of Dementia UK and ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Society.

Sue Baverstock, Group Head of Human Resources and Training, wrote her chapter on ‘Recruiting the best staff’, the chapter gives a brief introduction and then 10 key points to consider including, ‘The importance of attitude and values’, ‘The resident’s perspective’, ‘Promoting care as a career’ and ‘What if you make a mistake?’.

The book features many other care experts such as Des Kelly, Executive Director of the National Care Forum and Kate Wakefield, Head of care provider engagement at PayingForCare.

If you would like more information on how to order the book visit

Delicious Digg Facebook LinkedIn reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Email Print Friendly

The Big Interview – Activities

This month we took the time to get to know Jazmine Radford, the Activities Co-ordinator at Carrington House in Wincanton. Jazmine is 22 years old and has worked for Somerset Care for 2 years, starting her career as a Care Assistant and taking on the activities 6 months ago.

Jazmine Radford

What made you want to work in social care?

I cared for my Great Grandad for a year before he passed away, after this I felt working in care was the career for me.

Why do you think it’s important for care homes to offer a range of activities to their residents?

A lot of people think that care homes are full of residents sleeping in chairs all day, whereas this isn’t the case! The residents in our care homes do a wide variety of activities to suit their personalities. I strongly think that you’re never too old to participate!

What would you do in a typical day?

I start the day at 10.00 am, my first job is to hand out the newspapers and post to the residents, I also ask them what they would like for lunch and after that bring the tea trolley around and chat to everyone. At 11.00 am I start my first morning activity this could be anything from fun and games such as dominoes or flower arranging and crafts. When the residents start their lunch I plan the activities for the coming months, put together a newsletter for the home or check the stock in the residents’ shop. At 2.00 pm we get together for the afternoon activity, this could be opening the residents’ shop or holding our monthly café.

Do you have a particular activity, event or day that sticks in your mind?

I enjoy hosting the monthly café because lots of the residents get involved, I also enjoy organising trips out to places like the garden centre. This year I’m looking forward to organising a trip to Longleat for the residents, I think this trip will be good for reminiscence and trigger memories from their childhood.

Thank you to Jazmine for taking the time to share her experiences.

Delicious Digg Facebook LinkedIn reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Email Print Friendly

Seasons Greetings from Alyson Martin

We are just on the cusp of completing our annual review which will be circulated early in the New Year so I will save my round up from across the business for the moment!

Alyson MartinHowever as 2013 closes and we approach 2014 it is a time to recognise that we have a had a busy year across all parts of the business. It is also a time to reflect on the important contribution that all staff have made over the last year. I have been visiting some of our services in the run up to Christmas and continue to be impressed with the quality of service from our staff and the good humour and laughter along the way. I was out on visits battling through the wind and rain thinking how challenging it can be just getting to work some days and at times like these especially so for our community teams having to battle through the elements to get between visits.

Maintaining the quality of our service is vital to the many customers who rely upon us, we now support nearly 5,000 people every day – so many people rely upon us providing consistently high quality and reliable services every day. It’s an amazing team effort, from carers, support teams, assessors, office staff and Managers everyone playing their part to ensure the whole service works smoothly.
Thank you for all your support and dedication throughout the year. I know many of you will be working over the Christmas and New Year period but hope that you also find some time to relax and enjoy the festive season.

From all the Directors and Central team – Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2014.

Delicious Digg Facebook LinkedIn reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Email Print Friendly

Staff honoured at Somerset Care Awards 2013

Somerset Care held their annual awards ceremony on 26th September at the Somerset County Cricket Ground, Taunton.

Over 180 guests, including award winners and their families, attended the event at which staff were recognised for their long service and special achievements. In total the ceremony celebrated 655 years of long service, with one staff member celebrating 40 years. In addition to long service, presentations were made to staff members who had been nominated by their fellow colleagues for their special achievements, with an Overall Winner being announced in each category.

Attendees heard speeches from Alyson Martin, Chief Executive, Eoin Keogh, Director of Care Services, Susan Baverstock, Group Head of HR and Training and Chris Davies, Chairman.

Somerset Care Awards 2013

Delicious Digg Facebook LinkedIn reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Email Print Friendly

Paying For Care

This blog was written by a member of staff from PayingForCare, a not-for-profit company designed to help individuals make more informed decisions about the arrangements and funding for their long-term care.

PayingForCare logo

“Recently I was invited by the marketing team of Somerset Care to give them a presentation about the issues that can surround people going into care and the funding of it.

This can be a daunting subject – from the many people I have spoken to, they often say it’s a bit like being dropped into the middle of a maze and having no directions! You can get little bits of information from so many sources, for example from your GP, family and friends as well as the Local Authority, but it can feel like you’re constantly running into dead ends and not getting the full picture.

Meeting the cost of residential or nursing care in old age is a growing issue for many people in the UK. As life expectancy continues to lengthen, more of us can expect to require some form of long-term care, either at home or in residential care.

Previous research has shown that 43% of people in residential care pay for their own care *.
Of those, the Local Government Information Unit estimates that around 20% will run out of money at some point in the future and fall back on the state. **This number is set to grow as the number of people aged over 100, who are the most likely to need some form of care, is predicted to increase a hundredfold to one million over the next 60 years.**

The costs can be daunting. While the state may help with some costs, eligibility is limited and many people find themselves over the threshold at which state support is given. Local authority help to pay for care fees is means tested so that, broadly, anyone with assets worth over £23,250* (£23,500 in Scotland and £22,500 in Wales),, including in many cases their home is expected to meet the cost of care in full.

In reality, care is usually only thought about at the point at which it is needed and, very often, it is the family of the person needing care who has to make all the necessary arrangements. Naturally, the key priority for them at this stage is to secure the best quality care available as soon as possible. Relatively few people consider the true cost of care over the longer term and how to pay for it. Quite often, it is once someone has been settled into their care home when there is a realisation of how quickly the costs of care can mount up over time.

Of course, getting the best quality of care for relatives will be the key focus, however, it is also imperative to ensure that it can be paid for, for as long as it is required, without potentially compromising on the quality of care in the future. In the absence of proper financial planning there is the risk that funds will run out and many people can find themselves falling back on the local authority for help. Yet, of the 53,000 people who currently pay for their residential care, a recent study found that only 7,000 are likely to have received appropriate financial advice on planning for care fees.***

The fact is, there is a lack of reliable and comprehensive information about care funding and advice. In particular, there is a chronic lack of awareness about the typical costs of care – which care costs individuals will be required to pay and how much the state will pick up, how long people might live and where to get the right advice.

At PayingForCare , we are a not for profit organisation established to address this information gap. We have a website at which people can find valuable information on all aspects of paying for care. It includes details of entitlements to state benefits, eligibility for local council support and appropriate options available to help fund care.

We also provide the facility to talk to specialist care fees advisers through an online chat service and obtain answers about any aspects of care relevant to your individual circumstances.

Most importantly, there is also the option to find a Specialist Care Fees Adviser in the local area to access in more detail the advice needed to be able to plan for long term care funding. To find out more visit

* Laing & Buisson, Care of Elderly People UK Market Survey 2012/2013
** LGiU Independent Ageing 2013
*** Partnership data

Delicious Digg Facebook LinkedIn reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Email Print Friendly

Alyson’s Summer Update

Alyson MartinThis summer we seem to have benefited from good weather, I hope that it remains so for the summer events that are happening across our services. There are the usual round of Cream Teas, Fetes, BBQs and a few more unusual events. I’m hoping that the Residential Op’s team return fit and well after their attempt in the three legged race at the Field House (Shepton Mallet) Sports Day.

Alongside the day job (or nights!) that everyone has in supporting all our customers I’m constantly impressed by all the ‘extra’s’ that staff do, whether it’s supporting our own fundraising functions or contributing to Charitable events held to raise money for wider good causes. There are too many to mention them all, but some of the recent ones I’m aware of include, skydiving, running in the Race for Life and a RNLI raft race in the Bristol Channel!

Care and Support news

  • Occupancy in our care homes naturally fluctuates but top notch goes to the teams at Popham Court, Southlawns and The Priory who have all attained 100% occupancy in August.


  • The Mendip Community Services team have recently held an opening event for the re launch of the Emma Sheppard centre at Frome. The service provides day support to people with dementia and is highly valued by the people attending. I recently visited the centre and was impressed by the service, my contribution to the day was joining in with the fitness session, it was good fun and enjoyed by all.


  • Howard Jones, 83 (not the well known musician) but a resident at Sunningdale Lodge is part of the Ages2.0 project. He has just independently completed his online ‘Forget me Not’ life story book, some achievement as he had not used a computer before the project started and he was able to upload his photos and life story into the book.


  • For our Realise services one of our current pieces of development work is the conversion of a couple of unused staff flats adjacent to Halcon House in Taunton, this will create super accommodation for some Learning Disability clients in the near future.


  • Hot off the press –  Pulsford Lodge have just attained their Gold Standards Framework accreditation and have achieved the highest rating of Commended. Congratulation to all of the team for their hard work in receiving this accolade.


  • I have been ‘out and about’ visiting services over recent weeks, care home visits included The Priory (Tetbury) and Greenhill House (Cheddar), then South Hampshire and Mendip community bases and on to Sheffield, North Allerton and Ponteland where I visited some of the new YourLife schemes. It has been a delight to meet clients and staff alike, thank you to all of you who have made me so welcome.


Company news

  • Across the company we continue to develop our online presence, the new website is in the final stages of completion and our social media status has extended, on Twitter: we now have 1,180 followers – an increase of 7% on last month and on Facebook: our page has 510 ‘likes’ – an increase of 25% since last month.


I hope that the weather holds for while longer so that those of you planning a break can enjoy a rest from work in the sun – rest and relaxation, keeping a good work life balance is important in ensuring that when we do all return to the “day job” after a break, we feel refreshed and energised.

Delicious Digg Facebook LinkedIn reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Email Print Friendly

Jane Lynch – ‘Tell your Story’

We caught up with Jane Lynch, Assistant Director for Residential Services, before her retirement in September. Here’s the story of Jane’s Somerset Care journey:

Jane Lynch

“My first job was as a supervisor at Wyndham House where I spent seven very happy years, before being given the opportunity to become the Manager of Croft House. It was here that my passion for improving the quality of life for people living with dementia was ignited.

Along with my very dedicated team, we created one of the first specialist dementia wings, offering a different type of care that focused on providing an enabling, stimulating and fulfilling lives.

Over the years Somerset Care has given me some amazing opportunities to develop our dementia services (PETALS). I have travelled to Scotland to seek expert guidance on environmental design. A word of advice; don’t make this trip in January as we nearly got snowed in! But, the advice we received started us on the road to developing our ground-breaking style of dementia friendly homes.

I have also worked with the team from the psychology department at Exeter University, helping us to be one of the very few companies to deliver evidence-based practice in our homes and the community.

The journey to my current position of Assistant Director of Residential Services, has been interspersed with a variety of other roles and projects, which have all gone to make my career exceptionally rewarding. But, without a doubt, the icing on the cake has been the opportunity to work with some very amazing people.”

Delicious Digg Facebook LinkedIn reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Email Print Friendly

Alyson’s Update

Alyson Martin

Amongst the general day to day running of the care business a few different things have been happening in Somerset Care over the last two weeks.

The National Care Forum annual conference was a really excellent couple of days with plenty of ideas debated especially on best practice for Dementia Care and End of life.

A visit to Saffron Court – Brunel Care home in Bristol, I was interested to see the care home design and the way personalised dementia care is being delivered. It’s always good to pick up tips and ideas from fellow care providers.

The Care Bill has been launched and I’m still trying to work my way through the 84 pages of the bill from the Second Reading in the House of Lords and trying to interpret what this will mean for us. I’m also hoping there will be some useful “easy read” summaries in the care press over the next few days!

Celebration events have also been the order of the week, the retirements of Marion Osborn (Operations Manager) and Judith Dyke (Group Health and Safety Officer) have been marked by leaving parties, between then they have clocked up 50 years of service – we have greatly valued their contribution over the years and will greatly miss them – but wish them a wonderful time in retirement.
On Thursday we were raising awareness of dementia and doing a range of events across our services in support of the Alzheimer’s Society. At central office we did a “walkathon” around the business park and have collectively clocked up 126 miles, the equivalent of walking from Taunton to Havant! And at the latest count £450 was raised for the Alzheimer’s Society.

At Croft House in Williton we had local TV filming their events and we hope this will be televised in the next few days and a special mention to the community team in Wiltshire who were on walking machines burning up the miles, the cakes looked yummy and they raised another £420!

Thursday evening also hailed an unusual event as 8 of the central office staff have formed a team in a local rounder’s league, having not played since school days I was definitely a bit rusty at the practice session, and a high priority is to raise my fitness level before the league starts!

Delicious Digg Facebook LinkedIn reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Email Print Friendly