The CoronaVirus pandemic is unlike anything that I (or any of us) have seen before.
We’re living through extraordinary days where the situation is changing rapidly in any given 24 hours. Anxiety is rising as some of our media report dramatically on the Virus around the world and there’s confusion around what people are expected to do in response to the latest information from the Government.
Here at Right at Home GF, we’re being updated several times a day on the latest situation and we’re reviewing how we manage our services and support not only our clients, but our much-loved team too, in response to the latest advice.
The confirmation that anyone over the age of 70, pregnant women or those with underlying health issues should isolate for the next 12 weeks is a challenge. We feel strongly that it is up to an individual to make the decision about how far they take that advice. It goes without saying that it would certainly be sensible to limit exposure to the risk of catching the Covid-19 virus. However, I think to completely shut yourself or your elderly relative off from all outside contact would be extremely detrimental to both their physical and mental health. We are human beings and we need social contact. At this time, more than ever, it is so important that those isolated in their own homes receive some social interaction with others. There are options for using technology to do this but this can be hard to access for elderly people. Certainly, most people can certainly manage a phone call!
We are continually reviewing our working practices to ensure that they are in line with the rapidly changing government guidance. Our clients who receive support with personal care, medication and meals etc will of course continue and I am sure that guidance will be for companionship services to continue with the increased hygiene measures we have in place. It is all a balance of risk and benefits. For most of our clients they would definitely be willing to accept some level of risk to enjoy the improved quality of life that our companionship services brings to them. Recent feedback from one of our client’s daughters makes that very clear:
“Not only has Lesley given my Mother a whole new meaning in life but she has also made things so much better for me and my sister as we know that when it is a Lesley day she is safe and happy. To hear my Mums happy voice at the end of the phone on a Lesley day (and a Julie day) is wonderful. Thank you.”
Our aim is to keep providing this life enhancing service to the elderly people in the local area in as safe a way as we can to ensure our clients remain comfortable and cared for in their own homes.
What are we Doing to Keep our Clients and Team Safe?
There is regular guidance coming from the government and our National Office on what actions we should be taking to keep our clients and team members as safe as we can.
Some of the actions we already have in place include:
- We have very sadly cancelled all our community events
- Our CareGivers are being extra vigilant with hand washing before and after every care visit and during if required
- We have small teams of CareGivers visiting each client – keeps contact to a minimum
- We have postponed all non-essential meetings and visitors to our office
- Our office team is geared up for partial home working to reduce the risk in the office.
- For our clients – can you please ensure that soap and paper towels are available for hand washing.
What are we Doing to Keep our Services Going?
I am so proud of our team, they are stepping up to this challenge and as ever going the extra mile to ensure our clients are cared for. However, we are anticipating that some of our team may not be able to work due to possible school closures, self-isolation or feeling unwell. To reduce the risk of too many of the team being impacted we have:
- Asked any team members with children who would need caring for to try and find some support from friends or family members to allow them to keep working
- Lobbied local government to encourage schools to remain open for children of Health and Social Care workers
- Encouraged team members to practice good infection control measures at home as well as at work
- We are stepping up recruitment to increase our capacity.
If and when we do have team members unable to work, we are prepared to adopt some of the following actions:
- Many of the team have already offered to work extra hours if needs be
- The office team can step in and do care visits if needed
- We could ask clients to reduce the length of some visits
- We could prioritise our most vulnerable clients with reducing visits to our most independent clients
- We could ask family members of clients to step in with some support to free up some of our care team
- We could use a volunteer taskforce for our Companionship calls.
It is a challenging time for all businesses. For some, the impact of the social change caused by CoronaVirus may push them too far and they will go bust. For others, they are seeing an uplift in trade which comes with its own challenges. For us here at Right at Home, we are not yet sure what the impact will be. We are expecting an increase in demand as more people are asked to isolate themselves in their own homes and we want to be able to help as many people as we can. What we do know is that our services will continue and we’ll be supporting our clients throughout this difficult time.
Whatever the outcome, there is going to be a lot of change. People will lose loved ones, jobs will change, habits will change. I just hope that we will see more and more of the positive side of humanity with communities coming together to help one another rather than the frantic scenes of panic buying.
If you would like to get involved with our Right at Home family, either as a client or as one of our fantastic CareGivers, then do please get in touch by phone on 01252 783426 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Alastair Shanks, MD Right at Home GF
For health information and advice, read the NHS web pages on coronavirus.
For latest guidance, information and updates visit Public Health England.