Here at Home Instead East Hertfordshire
Without a doubt the Covid19 pandemic has been the most challenging and life-changing experience that this country and the whole world have seen since wartime Britain in 1940.
The deadly virus namely COV SARS 2 originated from Wuhan, China, and descended on the UK during the month of January 2020.
Symptoms of high temperature, a new persistent cough, Flu-like symptoms, crushing headache, loss of smell and taste, gastrointestinal upset amongst the main well-documented symptoms had the most devastating impact on people.
The total number of deaths to this date is over 41,000 people in the UK with many more suffering chronic on-going health ailments.
Those with underlying health problems and the elderly were hit harder as obviously they were more likely to succumb to deadly pneumonia that this virus is famous for.
The nature of this virus is so unpredictable that even the young and healthy were not immune to its ravishing effects.
Anywhere there was a communal living/close-knit environment was a magnet for contamination and subsequent infection.
Hospitals, care homes, businesses, schools, everywhere there are people, the virus is a serious threat to health.
The national lockdown enforced by our government in March was something totally unprecedented and meant a whole new way of working and adapting for all of us in the Health and social care sector. Mandatory lockdown enforced countrywide to try and control the virus and save lives.
Our seniors were understandably anxious, frightened, some more than others but our whole team at HISC had a vital part to play in keeping each other safe both physically and mentally.
Along with guidance from the government and from our National office, we gave so much time and thought into making sure the needs of our clients were being met and spirits were kept up despite the harsh reality.
Every day bought new problems and issues to resolve as well as taking on board new ways of working.
Three of our office team commenced working from home. Reducing numbers in our office space in order to keep key players safe and further cut the risk.
This is a brief list of what we did for our staff…
· Ensured all staff had completed their online Infection control module using the Training program learning cloud.
· Relayed information including educational information using the Zoom platform, email, Whatsapp, or telephone call.
· Contacting each CAREGiver and speaking to them about any worries, concerns, queries, or issues. Both work-related and personal.
· Highlighting the CAREGiver who needed extra support and monitoring the situation. Some needed an increase in wellbeing checks at more frequent intervals. Offering the Home Instead counseling service. We made it clear we are always there for them.
· Zoom CAREGiver meetings every week progressing to Monthly when lockdown restrictions were eased. These meetings were recorded for those who were unable to join in at the time.
· A member of the office was responsible for driving to the local drop off points for CAREGiver to retrieve their PPE.
· Keeping our staff well informed with updates using Whatsapp and messenger
· Each CAREGiver was presented with a bag of goodies as a Thank you during this challenging time. These were presented at their home or care call by the Director himself.
· CAREGiver had a curry lunch prepared for them to take away, from another member of our team.
· Regular postings on our staff Facebook page to humor, inform, and update.
· Supporting those staff who were furloughed or shielding. They were not forgotten.
· Lots of support to one member of staff who contracted Covid19 and was hospitalized as a result.
We tried to create a calm and competent environment because we did not want to create any added anxiety or give the impression, we did not know what was happening ourselves.
For the three key players working from home, there was AM and PM phone calls and a daily team zoom meeting.
Our seniors, of course, were deeply affected by the lockdown which manifested itself into a mixture of fear, anxiety, low mood, and bewilderment with only a few managing to deal with the crisis well.
The situation had been likened to a third world war. But this one more deadly as it was the silent enemy.
Quote from one senior, at least we had each other during the war and at my age, I will never get these years back.
All our team understood exactly how this unprecedented situation had affected our clients and we all worked tirelessly to support them during this difficult time.
Here are some of the ways we made a difference to a senior’s life
· Each Client was rung regularly by a member of the office team to make sure all their needs were being met and to find out if there was anything else, we could help them with.
· Our clients kept the same CAREGiver wherever possible who tried to lift spirits with engaging in activities that they knew bought them joy.
· Office staff made Regular phone calls to family members to see if they were alright as well.
· Mandatory phone calls to ensure we knew all the clients that had received shielding letters so we could give them further protection. If a client had not received a letter and it was felt they should be classed as most vulnerable, then we would treat them as such to protect them.
· Face time conversations with the client using their CAREGiver mobile phone. There were a few clients who had their own I pad and could use it.
· Assisting with face-timing family members, friends
· Assisting with online singing sessions via zoom.
· Many of our CAREGiver got some clients shopping in their own free time and dropped it off, not waiting for the next care call.
· Seniors who were lonely and not seeing family had extra wellbeing phone calls even at weekends as this was identified as being particularly hard for them.
· A CAREGiver bought extra shopping items and left them in her car boot in case a client was running low on something
· CAREGiver took Plenty of homemade food treats to cheer up their clients. One CAREGiver took homemade scones and a cream tea to each of her clients on VE day.
· CAREGiver played musical instruments alongside our clients and there has been lots of singing to lift spirits.
· We rang Clients who during lockdown were staying with family members so was having a break in our services. Checking on their well-being despite them having no care calls at that time.
· Once lockdown had eased in June we have been able to take clients out into the community (keeping them away from others)
· Clients who have gardens have enjoyed a spot of gardening or a gentle walk with their CAREGiver.
· We distributed a free puzzle, crossword, quiz book to seniors in the community. Not just our clients. We had 3,000 printed.
It is of huge concern that Covid19 cases have increased significantly meaning measures and restrictions are in place and we will continue to protect our staff and clients as best we can.
Until we have a reliable vaccine, we will have to learn to make our new acquired precautions, a way of life.
Supporting a senior to live in their own home is a safe option for many and families trust us to keep their loved ones safe and radiate that unique Home Instead of happiness.
I will round off by saying this ghastly pandemic will be part of our life story to recall to our younger family members and who knows. The next generation of Home Instead CAREGivers because the to us it's personal, means literally just that.