COUNCIL staff who care for elderly, disabled and vulnerable people across south Durham have received an award.

Staff at Sedgefield Borough Council Carelink Service are among a handful of UK local authority teams to gain the top industry standard.

They have achieved compliance with the Association of Social Alarm Providers Code of Practice for Social Alarms Services Part 1 (Call Handling Services) and Part 2 (Dispersed Alarm Operations).

Sedgefield Carelink offers round-the-clock monitoring, response and home visiting services to about 9,500 people throughout Sedgefield, Teesdale and Wear Valley.

It provides home support enabling older and vulnerable people to maintain their independence in the community, but they can use a pendant alarm system to call for urgent assistance.

Launched in 1998, the code of practice encourages the provision of customer service by officially recognising the service providers that meet its criteria.

Service manager Arthur Bellwood said: "The audit was a rigorous and demanding exercise and undoubtedly teamwork within all parts of Carelink was the key to our success. The project has benefited not only the staff, but more importantly, our customers whom rely on our service day in and day out."

Anyone who is interested in the Carelink service can telephone (01388) 728806.