Meet our finalists – Compassion Award


February 1, 2021

Compassion is a key element of care, and it can be shown in so many ways. Here, we speak to our finalists in this category and ask them what they felt when they found out they were nominated.


Sara Costa, Outlook Care

Outlook Care’s Quality Manager, Sara Costa was asked to develop a communications strategy to ensure no one felt cut off from society, depressed through lack of visitors or stressed by the pandemic, which she implemented single-handedly. Sara cut short her sabbatical – a once-in-a-lifetime-trip to spend quality time with her husband and family overseas – to help.

What made you want to enter the awards?

I was nominated by managers after receiving feedback from customers and staff. They felt I had really made a difference to them in the dark times and I was so touched that this was coming from the people we support too. Running the project through lockdown was one of the best times I had ever had at work – certainly the most rewarding.

How did you react when you found out you were a finalist?

I couldn’t believe it when I found out I was a finalist! I couldn’t stop laughing and smiling! I ran a project called Smiling is Infectious, so that was really appropriate! What an amazing thing! I’ve never had anything like this happen before and I’m just so grateful. I still think it’s unbelievable.

What does it mean to you to be a finalist in the Markel 3rd Sector Care Awards?

I am truly honoured and amazed to be a finalist, especially when I think of all the wonderful people working in the care sector and how every single one of them has gone above and beyond this year.

I feel a little embarrassed that I have been selected but am so grateful for this on behalf of all our wonderful customers at Outlook Care and our super staff. It has given us all a boost.

What’s been your greatest challenge in the last year?

My challenge, when everyone was being isolated, was how to engage all our customers and staff together and build momentum to create a vibrant inclusive community. I wanted to take the pressure off managers and empower our brilliant staff to facilitate as much fun as possible into every single day, so that nobody was bored, lonely or isolated. A spirit of ‘we are all in this together’ was born to connect customers, services and staff across the organisation. I am so proud of everyone. We can’t wait for the party when this is all finally over!


Gladys Nkhola, Monet Lodge, Making Space

Gladys Nkhola was the driving force behind the decision to turn Monet Lodge into a centre of excellence. Personable, and respectful of dignity and independence, Gladys places the care of her patients as her foremost concern. Gladys has touched many lives and continues to positively impact on everyone around her.

What made you want to enter the awards?

I didn’t enter the awards myself. I was nominated by my colleagues at Monet Lodge and I was unaware that I had been nominated by them until I was informed that I had been shortlisted. Then I was told that they had got together and put me forward for the award.

How did you react when you found out you were a finalist?

I was shocked and surprised, as I had no idea what was going on. As an older person, I was also confused. Once it had sunk in, I was very happy about being nominated.

What does it mean to you to be a finalist in the Markel 3rd Sector Care Awards?

It’s a real honour for me to be nominated for any award. I have always just done my job and didn’t expect anything for it.

What’s been your greatest challenge in the last year?

I have continued to work throughout the pandemic. I have always worked overtime as working keeps me young. During the most difficult time in April of last year, I had to work more hours because other staff were off, either with COVID or self-isolating. During this time, we had to work as the only nurse on shift as we were so short staffed.

The greatest challenge was the patients and their relatives missing each other, as they were not able to visit like they had always done.

We had to try our best to help them speak on the phone or have video calls. I was also afraid of catching COVID-19 myself as a front-liner, coupled with my old age and being from a BAME background.


Intergenerational Music Making

Intergenerational Music Making (IMM) is one of the UK’s pioneers of intergenerational music projects, bridging generational gaps and tackling isolation and social exclusion, whilst improving the mental health and wellbeing of both generations. The team comprises music therapy specialists, community musicians, artists, researchers and students, all caring to create a better world for others.

What made you want to enter the awards?

The world turned upside down in March 2020 and, since then, our incredible team of music therapists, community musicians, artists, researchers, performers, volunteers and students have been working tirelessly, determined to support our clients, our existing intergenerational communities and those new ones that have emerged out of the pandemic.

Our work is centred around connection and community, working with those living with dementia, those who are experiencing mental health issues, loneliness and isolation and those socially and economically deprived, both young and old. It is through awards such as the Markel 3rd Sector Care Awards that we are able to share our story, raise the voices of both generations and encourage awareness and understanding around intergenerational music practice.

We believe everyone should have the chance to live life to the full. Everyone has the ability to respond to music, to explore and develop in the music. Our work aims to bridge the gap between generations, creating stronger, more resilient communities whilst improving the mental, physical and emotional wellbeing of both the young and the old.

How did you react when you found out you were a finalist?

The news of us being a finalist provided the team with some much-needed light and joy!

We are all so incredibly passionate about Intergenerational Music Making, so to receive the acknowledgement from the panel that our work is important is truly special!

The past nine months have been extremely challenging for everyone. With so much loss, separation, isolation and uncertainty, it can be hard to stay focused on the light at the end of the tunnel. Music has acted as a crutch for so many of us – used to invite and empower new voices, to understand personal feelings and emotions and to remind us of positive moments with the people we love the most.

We believe that music will be the essential ingredient in how we heal and rehabilitate, both individually and as a community. We are determined to help mitigate the impacts on the nation’s wellbeing, improve the lives for those living with dementia and mental health concerns, but also to harness the power of strong creative connections for the future.

Individuals and their stories, whether sung, spoken, written, drawn, enacted, young or older, must be heard, exchanged and recognised. It’s through stories, whether factual or imaginary, that people tell us who they are, where they’ve come from and where they dream of going next.

What does it mean to you to be a finalist in the Markel 3rd Sector Care Awards?

We are honoured to be a finalist in the Markel 3rd Sector Care Awards. To be acknowledged and recognised for the innovative and vital work we deliver is incredible.

More and more people now appreciate that arts and culture can play a valuable part in helping tackle some of the most challenging social and health conditions. Our work addresses the ageing population, which brings with it a growing population and evolving healthcare needs, specifically looking at the increase in dementia, loneliness and mental health difficulties amongst all generations.

We use music as the vehicle to support individual memory and identification, whilst encouraging leadership, self-confidence and community.

At IMM we are passionate about providing ways for generations to engage with one another – to communicate, be creative, share insights and test out new ideas.

We want to encourage creative intergenerational communities, support and nurture intergenerational relationships, and provide quality artistic access for those with dementia, families and carers. We will only achieve this through an interdisciplinary team approach, one that gives people more say about the care and the support they receive. We want to pioneer an improved and new collaborative community where people, families, health care professionals and researchers are working together to improve an ageing population and the demand this brings with it through music!

What’s been your greatest challenge in the last year?

Due to COVID-19 we were unable to continue our intergenerational projects and feared that this time away from our clients could have a detrimental impact on their wellbeing. We were determined to adapt and to find new ways to support and nurture those wonderful intergenerational relationships and introduce exciting and creative ways to stay connected and creative.

Our response to the pandemic drew on the digital and non-digital, virtual and tangible. We used home-based, creative ways to support health and tackle isolation, loneliness, mental health and wellbeing for all generations, whilst creating cohesive, artistic communities.

This time of distance and separation has made our work even more vital. Over the course of the pandemic, it has been extremely distressing to have witnessed a dramatic deterioration in the dementia symptoms and mental health of some of our clients, both young and old. We have also seen trends in increased mental health concerns and feelings of loneliness from those over 70 living in care homes, those shielding or isolated without family, and in young people between the ages of ten and 18, the number of referrals has doubled.

We seized this time of interruption to rebuild and tell a different story.

Early on, we realised it was vital to engage and empower communities as equal partners in creating and maintaining their health and wellbeing.

Social isolation and loneliness are nothing new to our organisation but, now more than ever, we believe the arts possess transformative power, bringing people together in ways we could not have foreseen.

In December, we launched a campaign, Together with Music, in partnership with Care England to embed and sustain intergenerational connections across the UK.

Together with Music aims to connect every care home, sheltered accommodation and hospital with their local school or youth group through music. We see vast opportunity to embed cross-sectorial relationships, as well as creating job, training and volunteer opportunities for young people. This programme will empower and amplify voices of community members, giving them the skills and tools to be self-sufficient and integrated in their community.


This year we will be revealing our winners at a Virtual Ceremony on Friday 12th February. We’d love for you to join us. Sign up to attend the event here.

 You can also keep up to date with all the latest on this year’s finalists on social media #3rdSectorCareAwards @3rdSectorCare