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Somewhere under the rainbow...

Somewhere under the rainbow...

Posted: 22 April 2020

...there's a care worker with a smile on their face.

Caroline Southgate of the Doris Jones home care company can vouch for this. “We have seen such lovely examples of support, both for our team and for all the other essential workers going about their business during these difficult times.”

Caroline’s team of 80 provides care to the elderly and vulnerable in their own homes. And despite enormous challenges, they are continuing to deliver their vital services.

“It hasn’t been easy but our motto is Keep Calm and Care On! We’ve had significantly higher levels of staff sickness and we’ve needed to change many of the ways we work to ensure the safety of our staff and clients. But every member of the team, whether in the office, working from home or out in the community, has been absolutely brilliant.”

The lockdown has meant that many of the elderly people cared for by companies like Doris Jones have been even more isolated that they may have been before. With government guidance dictating that family members should stay away from their elderly relatives wherever possible to avoid the risk of infection, this has put increased responsibility on social services and private care companies alike.

“We’ve had to adapt to the circumstances to make sure our clients remain safe and well. Among other things, shopping has been challenging but we’ve made arrangements for the safe transfer of cash so staff can buy provisions for clients. And thankfully the supermarkets are finally beginning to prioritise care workers in the queues.”

“It’s hard for family members too. Not being able to visit mum or dad during such a frightening time is terrible. Technology is a big help, though. For example, we helped one client get to grips with an iPad so she could see and talk to her loved ones. We’re also inviting family members to join group Zoom meetings so we can provide updates on service and address any concerns.”

For the key workers, too, staying healthy is critical – both physically and emotionally. Keeping them safe and well so they can continue to do their important work is vital.

“Our team are all fully trained in Infection Control as a matter of course, so we’re already extremely well-prepared and able to manage the risk of infection as we go about our work. And while there is a national shortage of Personal Protective Equipment, we planned ahead as best we could and have sufficient supplies of PPE.”

“We’ve significantly upped our communication within the team. The office team is split in two, alternating between weeks in the office and weeks working from home. This helps us ensure continuity of service but it does have its drawbacks for such a close-knit team. Using video calling is a great though and helps us stay in touch and maintain a sense of unity.”

“And we’ve enlisted the support of Dr Charlotte Harkness as our Mental and Emotional Wellbeing Advisor. A registered psychotherapist, Charlotte has produced a series of videos to help the team understand and manage any feelings of fear and anxiety they and their families may be experiencing.”

Historically, care workers have rarely been thought of in the same context as NHS and other frontline workers. And that’s something which has frustrated Caroline and many other care company owners and staff.

“For a long time, care workers have been the ‘hidden heroes’, less visible than NHS workers, rarely mentioned and poorly supported by government. But that’s changing. It awful that it’s taken such a crisis to raise the profile of the care industry but I’m glad for my team – and for all the other dedicated care workers in our town – that the country is beginning to recognise what an important role they perform.”

So put a rainbow in your window, get out on your doorstep on Thursday evening and clap – not just for carers but for all those key workers on the frontline. Every single one of them deserves your appreciation.

If you need information or advice about care for an elderly loved one in their own home, you can contact Caroline’s team on 01702 472954 or by emailing