Real stories from care professionals navigating a crisis

For the UK care sector, COVID-19 has been a painful and destructive force. Since March, there have been over 30,500 more deaths in care homes than we would normally expect.1 There has been an even greater increase in deaths among those receiving care at home (domiciliary care).2 The elderly and vulnerable who remain unaffected physically by the virus, still suffer from the loneliness and isolation caused by social distancing.

Yet, in the midst of this suffering, stories of hope have emerged. Owners, managers, and carers around the country have stepped up to lead their own fightback against the pandemic.

People like Mathew; the Health and Wellbeing Manager at Thornton Manor in Chester. Thornton Manor is a home specialising in care for those with either mental or physical disabilities or dementia. Mathew made an early decision to go into lockdown with his unit, to ensure the residents there would still have access to physical therapy. His colleague, Cheryl Wood, is proud to say they haven’t had a single case of COVID-19 at Thornton Manor, and that’s tribute to the attitude and hard work of Mathew and his team.

Across the country, South West Care Homes also took a proactive approach early on. Manager, Aymi, had only just joined the business when murmurs of a pandemic began. She recalls prompt decision-making as a key strength in their ability to adapt to the changing environment. As soon as they were aware of how serious COVID-19 could get, they decided to speak to the families of all of their residents. A full 10 days before the national lockdown measures were announced back in March, their homes were already in lockdown.

Domiciliary care provider, Expertise LTD, found that open and honest communication with its clients allowed it to structure its approach and prioritise needs. Director, Alexandra, describes how they too rang all of their clients, explained what they knew about the situation, and asked them what they felt they could manage with in terms of a minimum level of care. So, if they were ever faced with a situation where a number of carers couldn’t work, they had a clear understanding of the absolute minimum care they needed to deliver. This also enabled them to work with other agencies in the area and as a result – they haven’t missed a single care call.

For David, the Director at Retain Healthcare, it is the carers who are the real heroes. As an agency providing healthcare staff to various organisations, David remained acutely aware that while their office staff were being sent home, their carers were being sent to the coalface of the crisis. To ensure that all staff felt supported and connected, they increased internal communications and delivered plenty of online training, including mental health and wellbeing awareness. Their carers have really stepped up to the challenge and have made a huge contribution to the region throughout the pandemic.

For those new to care, like Carole Wood, the resilience of staff and residents alike has been astounding. As Finance and Operations Manager at Mount Olivet Nursing Home and Kingsmount Residential home, the start of the pandemic felt like a whirlwind. There was a lot to take in with furlough, sick page, and safeguarding. The rate of change was unprecedented and when talking to us about her experience, she described the incredible way the staff and residents coped.

At times like these, it can be hard to find the good news amongst the bad. However, when speaking with our clients about their experiences, it is clear that all the hard work and sacrifice has made the world of difference to those currently receiving adult social care.

To read their full stories, and find out more about how the care sector stepped up to face down a pandemic, download Caring Through COVID-19.



Adult social care and COVID-19: Assessing the impact on social care users and staff in England so far

2. Health.org.uk

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