Local charity ‘Our Dementia Choir’ is the winner of the PICS Staff Survey fund draw and received a donation on Thursday 4 February, coincidentally on the national ‘Time to Talk’ day, which focuses on the importance of talking about mental health. With 850,000 people in the UK who live with a form of dementia, finding ways to live with the condition, enjoy life and find support is essential for many members of our local community.

The charity was set up by acclaimed actress Vicky McClure (star of hit TV programme Line of Duty) who formed a choir of people all living with dementia in her home town of Nottingham. It all came from a two part series on the BBC where Vicky set out to discover the true extent of music’s power in combatting dementia. The choir has had such an immeasurably positive effect that it’s members have remained in regular contact since the show aired and continued to meet and sing. New members are welcome to join and the group rely on donations to keep this amazing community choir running.

Launched for the first time in 2020, the Staff Survey Fund is an initiative that encourages staff to engage with the survey and remind each other to complete it. It’s also part of PICS’ drive to reduce our use of ink and paper (on flyers, posters and letters) and to support staff interests. Every time a member of staff completes the staff survey, PICS donates £2 to the fund.

The Staff Survey is based on the NHS staff survey and takes place every year. It’s a crucially important measure of how engaged and satisfied staff are in their professional environment. The data is collected confidentially and produces anonymous reports on whether staff feel safe and whether they think patient care is safe. It’s also an opportunity to comment on the culture of the company and share how supported they feel with their wellbeing and personal and career development. The results are compared with results from previous years and with comparable NHS organisations, and inform the ongoing work of managers to support staff and provide high quality patient services.

An amazing 292 people completed the staff survey so PICS topped up the Fund to a round figure of £600. 400 people were sent the survey making our response rate 73 per cent.

Staff were invited to suggest a charity to receive the fund and 14 charities were nominated. The winning charity was randomly selected by an online tool. Mark Griffin – Clinical Care Home Lead in the Enhanced Healthcare in Care Homes team, nominated ‘Our Dementia Choir’, explaining:

“Dementia has always been close to my heart and I am nominating this charity as I have previously worked with members of the choir and appreciated what a difference this has made to their lives and their dementia. It is a local charity and would benefit greatly from donations.”

Chair of the charity, Vicky McClure (Line of Duty actress and originally from Nottingham – see photo on left), wrote to PICS to share her appreciation, saying:

“On behalf of Our Dementia Choir, I would like to thank you so much for your wonderful contribution of £600 to the choir. I cannot begin to tell you how much this will support the sustainability of the choir ongoing and how much the choir means to so many people living with dementia in Nottinghamshire and surrounding counties.”

More about the charity and how to join or donate is here: Home | Our Dementia Choir 

Watch this space for more news about how PICS staff will be supporting the choir further by signposting patients to the charity and visiting a practice to understand the impact of their support.

Listed alphabetically, here are 13 other charities nominated by staff.

Anthony Nolan charity, nominated by Sarah Chalmers, GP Practice Data Quality Administrator. She explains. “I’m nominating this charity as I am a Bone Marrow Transplant recipient and the charity helped find my donor. They actually they found me two – my donor from the USA and a ‘back up’ donor in Germany. (They have) been a source of support since the transplant. I would not be alive today without the charity’s input and it’s work with Leicester Royal Bone Marrow Transplant Unit Team.” Home | Anthony Nolan

Babbington Dogs Rescue, nominated by Brian Rorison, Respiratory Nurse Specialist, Meden Medical Centre. Brian explains: “This is a wonderful charity in Nottingham, not only rescuing animals but re-homing them. The rehomed dogs have had a positive effect on a lot of others’ mental health, including mine.” babbington-rescue.org.uk

Brinsley Animal Rescue, nominated by Eve Elliott, Acute Home Visiting Nurse Practitioner in Mid Notts AVS team. “TJon & Beth set up the charity 14 years ago when they moved to Brinsley and have helped to rehabilitate and rehome hundreds of injured, neglected and orphaned wild animals, farm animals & unwanted small pets over the years. They work tirelessly every day of the year and are a really wonderful small charity who make an enormous difference to the animals in their care. For the animals that cannot be rehomed, the charity provides them with a permanent sanctuary.” Welcome to Brinsley Animal Rescue

Cancer Research UK, nominated by Maxine Bates, who supports Hama Medical Centre. She says: “I have been fundraising passionately for over 15 years in both memory and celebration of loved ones in the hope that one day there will be cures for all cancers. (I’m part of a) team called Cocktail Crew as we sell fruity cocktails as refreshment at events! Our new page has just been set up to take donations for ‘advent sacks’ that I’m selling for Christmas.”  fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/cocktailcrew

Cats Protection, nominated by Andrew Hale, Senior Business Analyst. The charity support owners with caring for their cats, and provide shelters for cats as they work to match them with a new home. Sadly, Andrew’s cat went missing earlier this year and so he’s sharing this photo of Kessler, who he brought home from the local branch a couple of years ago. cats.org.uk/donate

Crohns and Colitis UK, nominated by Jade Rowley, who supports Hama Medical Centre. She explains: “I have nominated this charity as I would like to give something back since I was diagnosed with Crohns Disease in June 2020. Despite working at a GP surgery, my knowledge of this condition prior to my own diagnosis was minimal. “No one gets it until they get it” With research and funding, new treatments are discovered which aim to reduce symptoms, control flare ups, achieve and maintain remission. crohnsandcolitis.org.uk

Heart Link Children’s Charity, nominated by Caroline Driver, Clinical Pharmacist in Notts West PCN. She explains: They provide essential support to parents and families who have a child suffering from a heart defect. Starting as a support group, they now improve facilities for the young patients, their families and provide much needed valuable medical equipment. They were a lifeline when my daughter was an inpatient there. Without Heart Link, parents would be sleeping on camp beds for months on end without facilities, yet families come from all over the country for the expert care from the hospital. The charity even bought an echo machine which has saved countless children’s lives.” Heart Link Children’s Charity (heartlink-glenfield.org.uk)

Hope Nottingham, nominated by Amy Scott, Care Homes Clinical Lead, EHCH team. Amy says: “Hope offer a range of services for people in Nottingham West area, including running the local food bank, a drop in café offering free breakfast and informal advice, youth group, employment, housing and literacy support.” Hope-nottingham.org.uk

Jerry Green Dog Rescue, nominated by Dawn Spence, Social Prescriber Team. “I want to nominate Jerry Green Dog Rescue for their relentless efforts to support dogs in our area through all of Covid and their commitment to find new home for all the dogs in their care.” https://www.jerrygreendogs.org.uk

Melanoma UK. They provide free support over the telephone and online, including helping people process all the information they’re given. melanomauk.org.uk

Prader Willi Syndrome Association UK, nominated by Chelsi Wightman, Contract and Corporate Governance Manager. “This charity is really close to my heart, my brother had Prader-Willi Syndrome and the worth this charity has done for our family is invaluable. We are one of the lucky families who had a diagnosis from him being 2-3 days old. They were there from day dot and I know their helpline was so comforting.” PWSA UK | Support for those living with Prader-Willi Syndrome

The Sickle Cell Society, nominated by Nadine Morgan, Social Prescribing Link Worker, Ashfield North. She says, “Sickle Cell is a hereditary blood disorder, primarily affecting people from African and Caribbean background and this is the only national charity in the UK (for these patients). It’s a life-long condition and not many people know about the pain and complications that sufferers of this condition experience. This year a ground breaking new drug to treat sickle cell became available, the first in 20 years and MPs debated about the treatment of the condition in Parliament.” www.sicklecellsociety.org

VASL charity, Sarah Chalmers nominated a second organisation called Voluntary Action South Leicestershire, because it is currently supporting her family. “My Dad has Vascular & Alzheimer’s Dementia. They are helping my Mum massively. Although my siblings and I provide care too, Mum bears the brunt of the daily care as we’re at work. VASL have provided the family with lots of information about what we can get to help my parents.” Home – VASL