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Barnsley Dementia Gateway – Winners of the Markel 3rd Sector Care Awards

We spoke to Cath Magee, Services Manager at Barnsley Dementia Gateway, winners of the Community Engagement Award in the 2020 Markel 3rd Sector Care Awards. Cath told us what she considered had secured the win and why they decided to enter the awards – here we tell their story.

Author: Markel UK

Community Engagement Award Winners

Barnsley Dementia Gateway is a two-year pilot service funded by Barnsley Council. The service is provided by national health and social care charity, Making Space. The aim of the service was to bring third sector organisations in Barnsley together to work in partnership to create better outcomes for the 3,000 people living with dementia in the area and to provide support for their carers.

The service regularly brings partner organisations together to share intelligence and resources and identify any gaps in the service.

With the advent of COVID-19, those involved with service provision for people living with Dementia in the region were required to work remotely and continue to do so today. As direct contact with people, including social and activity groups were central to the support offered; new ways had to be found to reach people in their homes. The priority was to ensure people continued to connect with the services available to them.

The pandemic necessitated the individual organisations to work even more closely – driven by an understanding they could share resources and create new services quickly when working in partnership. The partnership sourced new tablets for carers, supported them to become more digitally informed, and helped them get set up and connected. Carers then had the ability to help those in their care remain connected with their families and, for the first time for some, shop online. The training also allowed users to connect in social groups and carry out one-to one briefing and welfare calls. This worked incredibly well for many people.

It was also recognised early on that many of clients were using the phone to stay connected. Within two weeks, the Barnsley Dementia Helpline was setup. Group members participated in a rota and pooled resources to ensure the helpline’s smooth operation. The free phone helpline service for carers was available seven days a week between 8am and midnight.

Witnessing people mentally and physically deteriorating and having to respond differently to them during lockdown, led Barnsley Dementia Gateway to begin visiting people at their home. The partnership delivered activity packs, hampers and books to service users. It was at this time that the group realised that people wanted regular conversations - albeit on their doorstep. This face-to-face contact made a huge difference to so many people during a challenging time.

The partnership is currently working on a Dementia guide – and a training course is planned for dementia carers. It was acknowledged that no one organisation could have achieved this alone.

With Barnsley Dementia Gateway’s innovative work achieving incredible results, Barnsley Council awarded further resources to the partnership.

Celebrating success by entering the Markel Third Sector Care Awards

The Gateway entered the Markel 3rd Sector Care Awards to celebrate the good work, the services created and to recognise those involved. Raising awareness of living with Dementia and the support needed for carers was important too. The fact that these were national awards for care was also vital for the Gateway - knowing they had created a worthwhile service that could be evidenced and expanded upon.

What does winning the award mean?

The team was delighted to be invited to present to the town’s councilors and Mayor explaining, the challenges, their response, their achievements, and prestigious award success.

Cath Magee believes the award win will help with securing future funding by highlighting how the partnership has worked so well for both the carers and for people living with Dementia who are benefitting from the service.

Cath Magee, said: “We are really proud of winning the award we have never won an award before - it’s great.”

“We wanted to let other organisations know that by coming together and working collaboratively you can share the risk, work and resources and achieve so much more. Our work is appreciated nationally and achieving the care award recognises our efforts and expertise.”

Cath concluded that her colleagues want to get their services back to normal but it is unlikely it will be in the same way as before the pandemic. “Barnsley Dementia Gateway plans to look at what has worked well such as continuing the helpline, regular group meetings, creating an action plan and making things happen, all of which has already helped the vulnerable people we work with.”

Winning the award is an enormous encouragement and spurs on those involved in the partnership, even when inspiration and motivation might be flagging. Cath also points out that the process of applying was user friendly, which was helpful with everyone so stretched for time.

To enter the Markel 3rd Sector Care Awards visit the awards website here.

May 17-23, 2021 is Dementia Action Week visit here to find out how you can get involved.