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Shropshire caregivers go above and beyond throughout coronavirus pandemic

By Rory Smith | Much Wenlock | Coronavirus | Published:

Caregivers across Shropshire have been working hard ensuring spirits remain high for residents during the coronavirus lockdown.

With family and friends not allowed to visit and the usual list of activities put on hold, residents' needs have changed.

This has also brought changes to carers' usual routine and meant they have often had to go above and beyond their usual role, with many coping with added workload brought on by the Covid-19 crisis.

For Shropshire-based Affinity Homecare, which provides domiciliary care in people's own homes, lockdown has been a time of unprecedented demand on the service.

New clients are being cared for and some existing clients have had additional needs, taking the service to full capacity.

Melissa Morgan, registered manager, said: “We’re working very hard to ensure we are following the guidelines to ensure staff, clients and their families are safe.

"We are very proud of our team for pulling out all the stops, from rescuing a client stranded at the supermarket to arranging food parcel delivery for those who can’t get out to shop.

"We also had to arrange distribution of adequate PPE and have been in more regular contact with clients’ families to make them aware of what’s going on.

"For their hard work, I am currently putting together a little thank you bag for each member of the team – this includes an angel keyring, a tealight candle, a packet of sweets, tea bag or coffee or squash, a slice of their favourite cake and some hand cream.”

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In Wem, the team at Roseville House have been holding weekly themed party nights celebrating staying in, including a karaoke, Makaton choir session and barbecues in the garden.

Jake Allen, registered home manager, said: “The six people we support at Roseville have coped extremely well with not only the current restrictions in place but also the hot weather – something which on its own is problematic.

"The outhouse has been transformed into a bar, a shop, a market stall and a barbers in attempts to make things as normal as possible.”

Meanwhile, staff and residents of Cheswardine Hall in Market Drayton have collaborated to create a daisy emblem in recognition of the life-changing work carers do.

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As an extension to the rainbow logo widely used to recognise key workers, the home wanted something unique to them and something to call their own, and so set about designing it.

Residents and staff with the new badges, from left: Joan Ringwood, Nicola Dudleston, Harrison Davies, John Webster and Jean Julian

Dominic Poole, Cheswardine Hall general manager, said: “We have had a really busy lockdown period with residents, staff and relatives all playing a part in this changing world we now see ourselves in.

"Spirits have been kept high. We locked down before the government made the decision themselves, and it would appear a prudent move as we have thus far been Covid-19 free, so testament to the team and the support we have had from our relatives.

"Our team now proudly displays their daisies, and should MP Matt Hancock read his emails he will also have sight of this initiative.”

With the help of Year 8 pupils from Bridgnorth Endowed school, residents of the Wheatlands Care Home, run by Barchester Healthcare in Much Wenlock, have been treated to artwork inspired by the Shropshire countryside.

The youngsters, who are currently studying from home during the lockdown, produced pictures around the theme of ‘bringing the outside in’, for an eye-catching display in the care home’s sensory garden.

Artwork on show at the Wheatlands Care Home in Much Wenlock

Claire Brewer, Wheatlands general manager, said: “The community links have helped uplift the spirits of residents, who have been coping well throughout the difficult pandemic period. As our residents are now unable to go out or have visitors to stay safe, this has really cheered them up and made them smile. Thank you so much to all the Bridgnorth Endowed students for their extremely talented artwork, which has taken pride of place in our sensory garden.”

Dean Carroll, Shropshire Council’s cabinet member for adult social care, public health and climate change, said he was proud of the work done by carers across the county.

He said: “We know that lack of contact with loved ones can have a detrimental impact on a person’s wellbeing.

"A lot of care home residents and other vulnerable adults have been used to regular visits, so lockdown has been difficult.

"The job has changed significantly for carers – as the only person some residents/clients will be seeing, our carers have been to great lengths to lift their spirits.

"I’m very proud of the thoughtful and inventive ways they’ve gone about this.”

At Goodwood Homecare, they expressed kindness with cake, sending each and every client a cupcake to cheer them up during Mental Health Awareness Week.

Julie Claassen, registered manager at Goodwood Home Care

Carers have also been sharing their technological know-how by helping clients with video calls to relatives.

Julie Claassen, registered manager said: “Everyone really loved the cakes – a small act of kindness to lift spirits. Our clients appreciated the gesture, so we’ve decided to do the same for our brilliant carers too.”

Every client at Goodwood received a cake

At Condover-based CLCA nursing, clinical manager Paul has had his mother and mother-in-law kept busy by making mask extenders for staff and clients. Lovingly homemade, the extenders take the pressure of the backs of the ears when wearing a PPE mask.

Andy Connell, marketing manager, said: “When hearing of the pain people get when wearing masks for a long period of time, Paul’s family made and donated the lovely extenders to help keep us comfortable. We received a visit from Stefan from the Freemasons of Shropshire who kindly donated visors to CLCA to help our staff and clients too.”

At Four Rivers Nursing Home, in Ludlow, the team have welcomed the use of tablets to facilitate face-to-face calls between residents and their families.

This has been a positive experience, with many families experiencing this tech for the first time, giving them confidence and skills in something that previously they would have dismissed as being beyond their capabilities.

Christine Thomas, nursing home manager, said: “It has been great to see the joy when residents and their loved ones continue to have these connections.

The team at Four Rivers Nursing Home

"We have even used Skype and Facetime to share birthday celebrations and opening of cards and presents.

"Prior to coronavirus the only option for families who live far away or outside the UK was a voice call, but now they have the option to use Skype or Facetime to be able to see their loved ones.

"This has resulted in calls to loved ones in the USA, Singapore and Australia. We are in the process of using other technology such as larger screen devices to enhance this facility even further.”

Over the last two weeks, the home has also facilitated socially distanced visiting in the garden with a loved one, when the weather allows.

Christie added: “We recently had a 95th birthday and the carers decorated an outside seating area with banners and bunting.

"This turned out to be a joyful occasion instead of what could have been a lockdown birthday without his beloved wife. It was heart-warming to witness the delighted reaction of both parties.”

Rory Smith

By Rory Smith
Reporter - @rorysmith_star

Senior reporter based at the Shropshire Star's head office in Ketley, Telford.

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