For my last journal of 2014, I look back at what we’ve achieved over the past year – and give a preview of priorities for 2015.

January: The year kicked off as we meant to go on, with several awards collected by Anchor colleagues, including for the Anchor Community Band, for outstanding work. The hard work is also recognised in the Your Care Rating survey, with Anchor homes generally better than average. At a time of unprecedented pressures on our sector, knowing we’ve got people who go the extra mile for our customers is what truly sets us apart from competitors. A great way to start the year!

February: Our colleague magazine Purple included a double-page spread on how to find out about career opportunities in Anchor. The article featured the experiences of talented colleagues who’ve been promoted. I hope it’s highlighted the support and advice available. There was also a lot of media coverage for a report we published with The International Longevity Centre which showed that around 718,000 people will have to be recruited by 2025 to provide housing and care for our ageing population. All the more reason to show how we’ve got great career opportunities.

March: Together with our annual customer satisfaction surveys and our financial results, the colleague survey tells me how our organisation is performing. At the end of the month, we learned that our colleague engagement score was 77 per cent - the best we’ve ever seen. It shows how Anchor people are committed to going the extra mile to deliver great services, speak highly to others about their work, and want to stay with Anchor.

April: Our Catering Team were out and about working with chef managers to give customers the opportunity to sample a range of dishes, which were added to the menu if they got the thumbs-up. It’s a great example of ensuring we’re focusing on giving the people we serve what they want. And Chef Manager Anthony Proffitt from Kimberley Court care home, Newquay, won a place in the national finals of the National Association of Care Catering’s Care Cook of the Year competition.

May: This month saw me in Weston-Super-Mare for a Directors Direct meeting with colleagues. Technology was a key point of discussion. A quick straw poll of attendees found 95 per cent regularly use a computer at home. I expect with tablets and smartphones being on many people’s Christmas list, that the figure would be even higher if we did that survey today. It’s important we make the most of technology in how we work.

June: National Care Home Open Day 2014 was bigger and better than the previous year, with our Mexican Wave sweeping the country. We even had a practice in a meeting of the Executive Management Board - you can tell who regularly goes to sports events. I was also back on home turf in Bootle, Merseyside, for a video journal of our bathroom and kitchen refurbishment at Stamford Court. I got to meet customer Pat Nolan who’s delighted with her new kitchen.

July: The country went Tour de France mad. It was great to see locations staging activities for customers, with some of our locations being close enough to the route for customers to see the action live. Linking up different parts of the country doesn’t just take a major sporting event though, as we unveiled how we’ll be installing Wi-Fi across housing locations and care homes in 2015 and 2016. Exciting stuff.

August: Our Grey Matters campaign launched. I was on my favourite radio programme - Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour - to encourage people to discuss with a loved one what sort of housing and care they will want in later life. August also rounded off our regional housing conferences where there were great discussions and ideas for improving customer satisfaction.

September: We were part of the Ready for Ageing Alliance’s call for the creation of a Ready for Later Life Pack, signposting people over the age of 50 to additional information and advice on preparing for retirement. And Scheme Manager Nathalie Moore from Robert Black House, Hampton Wick, persuaded her MP, Business Secretary Vince Cable, to voice his support for Grey Pride - becoming the first member of the Cabinet to do so.

October: Fancy footwork was on show at the final of our Strictly Dancing competition at the glamorous Rivoli Ballroom. I was judging along with Angela Rippon (who, if you’ve been watching the Morecambe and Wise repeats, knows a thing or two about dancing) and Contact the Elderly’s Cliff Rich. It was a great event, full of fun and sequins by the bucket load – as the video shows.

November: It was awards season again, and colleagues picked up trophies for the regional heats of the Great British Care Awards. Attention is also turning to the Care Act, which introduced a ratings system for care homes and will bring big changes which we’ll be talking more about in 2015. And we launched our fantastic Life Histories campaign with TV legend Bernard Cribbins, prompting some great activities in our homes.

December: One of the busiest times, with customer activities in full swing. We know that for those living alone, it can be one of the loneliest times of the year, and I see and hear numerous stories of how living in an Anchor property and joining in with community events has given many of our customers a whole new lease of life. Our Christmas Cake competition really is the icing on the cake to round off December.

We made real progress in 2014. I’ve not been able to include everything which has been a highlight to me, but I hope this helps bring back some great memories for you.

As for my resolutions for the future, I have signed up for four 10km runs over 2015 – when I expect to get some use from the new trainers and running gloves which Santa brought! I’m also looking forward to working with colleagues to ensure the best customer satisfaction in our sector, make us the best place to work and ensure we always provide value for money.

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