Recognising our heroes by Donna Briggs

Donna Briggs, Managing Director, Springhill CareI will take great pleasure in soon joining around 1,000 people to celebrate excellence in the support for people with learning disabilities at an awards evening dedicated to paying tribute to those who provide exceptional care and support to some of the most vulnerable in our society.


On the night I am proud to say that some of our own people from Springhill Care Group are finalists and will be amongst the best of the best in social care.


The National Learning Disability and Autism Awards is just one way of celebrating these achievements.


There are many others such as the Great British Care Awards, LaingBuisson Awards and the National Care Awards. Hats off to them for providing an opportunity to bring people together to celebrate and recognise the great work of our social care workforce.


The hard work that goes on in the care sector across organisations large and small day in, day out, provides an invaluable support to our communities and the people who live in them who need help and support.


I am sure you will know of someone or a team of people who go that extra mile who make a real positive difference in the lives of the people they care for. They deserve that moment of recognition, why wait for an annual event?


In January this year, Springhill Care Group launched the Caring Heroes campaign to do just that and highlight this work, much of it unseen and unheard of.


Since then the initiative has built momentum with Care England and MPs recognising and taking an interest in raising awareness of those who work across social care in the UK.


We would like to invite you to get involved - Take the pledge – and not wait for an awards ceremony – to share your stories of those who go the extra mile at #CaringHeroes.




Donna Briggs

Managing Director

Springhill Care Group


My Admiral Nursing journey by Jakki Whitehead

Jakki Whitehead, an experienced care professional, is hoping to become one of dementia care’s ‘beacons of excellence’ – an Admiral Nurse. This blog follows her journey from day one.


June 2016

Last month I wrote about how I started on the road to become an Admiral Nurse, following the decision by Springhill Care Group’s management to support me in an ambition I had held for 5 years.

The name Admiral Nurse was used in memory of sailor Joseph Levy CBE BEM who had vascular dementia and was known fondly as Admiral Joe. The service was first piloted in Westminster in 1990 as a result of family carers realising that there was gap in advice and support given to families and friends of people with dementia. The nurses are available to support families from the point of diagnosis throughout the dementia journey as well as helping to improve the quality of life of the person with dementia.

In a pilot in the NHS it was shown that the counselling and information given by Admiral Nurses had improved quality of life for people with dementia and their carers. In fact, 12 cases were identified which would have resulted in mental health services being involved if the Admiral Nurse had not been present. It was estimated that almost £1/2 million was saved over a ten month period by health and social care services in this project.

Another benefit of Admiral Nurses is that they provide specialist consultancy and education to professionals from the full range of disciplines working with people with dementia.The other professionals, such as GPs, social workers and nurses, reported that they felt more confident in supporting people with dementia and their carers, with the Admiral Nurse service’s support.

With regard my own journey, once the directors at Springhill had given me the go ahead I contacted Dementia UK and was lucky enough to meet Wendy Weidner, business development manager, at a Dementia Care conference in Bristol and also at the Dementia Congress event; Wendy spent time explaining the role of Dementia UK in developing the Admiral Nurse service, it was registered as a charity in 1994 and gave me some documentation to read.

In March this year Riversway Nursing Home’s general manager Jan Wilkins and I met with Wendy and Rachel, a business development manager, to discuss how dementia care as been developed at Riversway and of our joint passionate belief in excellent care for those residents with dementia and their relatives.

We spoke of how Dementia UK can support Riversway to look at how care is carried out now and how it can be developed over the next few years. Using technology to measure improvements can help in an area where it is notoriously difficult to measure the benefits for those with dementia, seeing what works and what doesn’t.

I am really looking forward to the best practice days and quality supervision and seeing how these can help to develop and improve quality of life for those with dementia and their relatives.

My next step, however, is to await an interview with Dementia UK

By Jakki Whitehead, Service Manager for People with Dementia, Riversway Nursing Home


Click HERE to read my 1st  blog (May 2016)My Journey to become an Admiral Nurse


To learn more about Admiral Nurses on DementiaUK click HERE to be redirected to the website





My journey to become an Admiral Nurse by Jakki Whitehead

Jakki Whitehead, an experienced care professional, is hoping to become one of dementia care’s ‘beacons of excellence’ – an Admiral Nurse. This blog follows her journey from day one.


May 2016

My path to becoming an Admiral Nurse began in May 2015 when I asked the management at Springhill Care Group if they would support me in my endeavour.

Admiral Nurses are specialist dementia nurses ‘who give expert practical, clinical and emotional support to families living with dementia to help them cope.’ The nurses operate as a partnership between Dementia UK and a host organisation such as Springhill and it’s a role I’ve been interested in taking since I first started working with people with dementia six years ago.

Admiral Nurses are registered nurses prior to taking up their new role, and will already have expertise in working with people with dementia. To the families of people living with dementia they can be a real lifeline at what is often a difficult and challenging time of life; supporting, explaining and helping to make sense of what people are experiencing.

In my bid to become an Admiral Nurse, I wanted to demonstrate to Springhill Care Group exactly why it would make such a difference, not just to the families of those we care for, but also to our business.

Springhill prides itself on being at the forefront of dementia care, and I knew that following an Admiral Nurse pathway would help us to provide a relevant, responsive service and to be recognised in the community as a provider of excellence.

It has been a long journey so far to become one of these specialist nurses and I have not been accepted by Dementia UK yet! I am hoping that this will happen soon so that I can start to make use of the best practice days and clinical supervision to enable me to be well-equipped to provide specialist-level leadership in dementia care within Springhill, informing our good practice, training and promoting good communication.

Admiral Nurses are recognised as a ‘beacon of excellence in the care sector, by providing unrivalled guidance, responsive solutions and innovative thinking.’

To my knowledge there are only 19 Admiral Nurses based in care homes across Britain although about 170 Admiral Nurses within the United Kingdom.

In October last year I received the great news that Springhill Care Group’s management were fully behind me and would support my journey to becoming an Admiral Nurse.

I can’t wait to share the rest of my experiences with you here in this blog.

By Jakki Whitehead, Service Manager for People with Dementia, Riversway Nursing Home

To learn more about Admiral Nurses on DementiaUK click HERE to be redirected to the website


My 20 years working in the social care sector by Donna Briggs

This year I will celebrate 20 years working in the social care sector, and to be honest it is not a direction of travel that I had intended.


My experience to that point was working for a manufacturing company whilst studying part time for a business degree. Fresh out of night school, armed with my degree I wanted a challenge, I wanted to do something different and at the same time work in an environment that helps people.


I was attracted to an advertisement in our local paper by a care home with a solid track record and reputation, which was looking to develop a domiciliary service.


I am proud to say that I am still working for that same organisation, Springhill Care Group. I feel extremely privileged to have enjoyed the development opportunities that Springhill has provided me over the years up to MBA level. I have also grown with the company to become the Managing Director of what has now become an organisation employing some 400 people.


Over that time I have worked with and witnessed some great work, often unseen by people who just want to contribute and help others.


We feel so strongly about the work conducted by people in the industry - and not just from Springhill  - in an industry which is relatively underpaid for the skills developed and undervalued for the contribution made.


To that end, we have launched our Caring Heroes campaign, aimed to recognise and value the people who care for the most vulnerable people in our society day in day out. These unsung heroes are really making a positive difference to the lives of the most vulnerable people in our society, they are supporting them to lead a life we take for granted every day.


They provide the sunshine to their day, they are the first and last person they see in the day, they are there to hold their hand and offer comfort, even whilst the person they care for takes their last breath,


There is no doubt that working in the care sector is no easy ride, after all we provide services to vulnerable people who require care and support 24/7. As we know, people are not products or commodities and can’t be put on a shelf and forgotten about until the next time when you are in work.


It did occur to me early on in my role with Springhill that working in the care sector holds  tremendous responsibility along with a yearning desire to do the right thing by the people you care for and support.


Over the 20 years I have worked and continue to work alongside a great team of caring, compassionate and dedicated people who I now know are here not simply to do a job, but see it as a vocation.

Recently, I was chatting to Sharon who is a support worker for our Affinity Supporting People, supported living service. She told me how much she loves what she does, how the team sing and dance together with the people they support. 


I also recall speaking to a nurse who told me how she had been caring for a resident who was at end of life – the nurse went off duty and returned home. In the middle of the night she awoke and felt the urge to go to the care home to see the resident she had been caring for earlier that day.


When she arrived she sat with the resident who then slipped away peacefully. It was like she had been waiting for the nurse to sit with her - a truly touching moment.


Working in the care environment requires sensitivity, care and compassion regardless of your role in the service. You may be in the office having a meeting but you are also in a person’s home.


It is important that we all respect that. I always smile when I am in a meeting having a serious business discussion, and in the background you can hear people singing an old classic such as You are my Sunshine.


When this first happened I apologised to the person who was in the meeting with me, and then it struck me “what am I apologising for?” I had nothing to apologise about, after all it’s their home, now I smile and sometimes even join in.


It does seem surreal sometimes how you can go from having a discussion about budgets to learning that a resident has passed away and seeing how a staff member is trying hard to hold back the tears as they comfort the grieving relatives. A stark reminder of why we do what we do.


Twenty years working with such a team of people, I consider myself extremely privileged.


Please let us know your story – see #caringheroes on Twitter.


Donna Briggs

Managing Director

Springhill Care Group


Let’s talk up social care by Donna Briggs

As a director of a social care organisation, I all too often hear members of our staff team saying “I'm just a… cleaner, cook, healthcare assistant.”


What these humble people are doing is devaluing themselves. They have chosen to work in a profession that is grossly underfunded and undervalued. They genuinely cannot see the value and the importance in what they do, and they do it every day.


Very often these committed, kind and caring individuals are the only people a vulnerable person may see from one day to the next.


They are the light in the room, the smile on the face and the ray of sunshine for the people they care for and support, providing hope, compassion and care.


And then there is the support they provide for families and friends of the people they care for as they help them to cope with the illness or disability their loved one is battling day in day out.


It is important that we as a society value the care sector and its 1.48milllion employees who are committed to making life better for vulnerable people each and every day. Some even believe social care is seen as more of a domestic service.


(Read Jonathon Holmes article 'Care workers are woefully undervalued – we deserve respect' in the Guardian HERE )


I include the managers of the service, who very often can't take a break as they are on call 24/7 ready to respond should their team need them.


As we enter 2016, let’s make a commitment to place a value on our social care sector and its workforce, the unsung heroes from the manager to those who provide this invaluable lifeline of care on the frontline.

Let’s talk up social care.


Donna Briggs

Managing Director

Springhill Care Group



Awards & Accreditations




Contact Us

Springhill Care Group Limited
Head Office
11 Cannon Street
Accrington, Lancashire
United Kingdom BB5 1NJ

Tel: 01254 304500
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Call Us: 01254 304500

JOIN US follow us on facebook follow us on twitter connect with us on linked in  

Opt-in to receive our care group newsletter & communications

Cookies help us improve our website and make them more user friendly, so you get a better experience. For the full details please read our Cookie Policy. You ok with our use of cookies? To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

  I accept cookies from this site.
EU Cookie Directive plugin by