Voices from the frontlines
Some of us you know well, some of us you see regularly, some of us you never see. We are the nurses, team leaders, care assistants, chefs, activity coordinators, receptionists, laundry assistants, cooks, cleaners, admins, those behind the scenes, the voices of the frontlines. These are our day to day and our extraordinary experiences.
Hi, my name is Delia, I’m 37 years old, married to a nurse who also works at the same home, and we have a son who is 2 years and 7 months old.
I have been a registered nurse for over 6 years. I used to work at an NHS hospital, my husband said that he thought I would really enjoy the challenge of elderly care, so I moved to Loxley Court 4 years ago, and I really do.
I love working in a care home because you can build relationships with the people and their families. In a hospital, it is totally different, people are in and out, and there is very little in-depth relationship building but here are like a family. I have worked with the same ladies and gentlemen, I know how their minds work, I understand how their conditions make them respond to different things. I know when they are having a bad day, how to help them and not just try to calm them down, but how to lift their mood and make them smile and happy again. That’s a fantastic thing to be able to do for another person, and you can only do that if you know someone well.
The ladies and gentlemen we support have complex mental health needs, they with trusting us with their lives, and so do their families, we earn this trust over time. I feel very honoured to have received this trust, and I like that each day I am going to work with my family and friends. It’s a great feeling knowing I am making a difference in their lives and helping them to thrive. Those relationships we develop extend to the families, which means at times like these they know their loved ones are cared for and loved. They are worried and missing them of course, but they also know they we are still here caring for them and not just caring for their physical needs but nurturing them as well.
One of the most stressful parts of my job is when we are short of staff, the pandemic affected all care services in this way, the same as the NHS. It just makes life so hard for everyone in the home, though, it puts so much pressure on all the staff, and you can’t spend as much time as you want with everyone. It was a terrifying time at the peak of the wave, the media’s portrayal of what was going on put lots of pressure on all of us. We just want to come to work and do our jobs, care for our ladies and gentlemen, keep them safe that’s our duty of care. The newspapers, television and social media made that all so much harder. They made the staff feel vulnerable and scared, in those early days you didn’t know what to believe, it was just so stressful.
The guidelines never stopped changing, our guidelines were different from those of the NHS, which was wrong. That shouldn’t have been we were all dealing with people who were at risk and vulnerable. We were at risk of infection just like our NHS counterparts, but we weren’t being treated like them, I think it was a shame the way the Care Homes were treated in those early days. I was putting my family at risk the same as any other nurse. Still, the PPE the guidelines said we needed were not as sophisticated as those at the NHS nurses required.
It has been a challenging time; I’ve never seen so many people die in my time as a nurse in such a short space of time. I knew every single one of these people, I had built up relationships with them, they were friends. It has an effect on you, you know, the company brought in a counselling service to help us with our grief which is good. I haven’t felt the need to use it myself, but I know of those who have, and it’s helped them. I’m glad I was here for my ladies and gentlemen, sometimes it was when they when deteriorating. For some, it was before we were allowed to let families be with them at the end. That was absolutely the worst time for everyone. The guidelines were stringent, and we couldn’t let anyone in so people couldn’t be together at the end, it was heart-breaking. We just had to make sure those people had the very best and most dignified death they possible could and be there for them right till the end.
This is my second home, I’ve laughed, cried, celebrated, commiserated, held people in sorrow and joy. I love the people I support and care for and the people I work with, this nursing home is my second family. It’s difficult because you either move forward or you weep, and you never stop. We have to move forward because the others need my attention and care now, I have to put away the feelings of loss and get back to doing my job. The second wave could be round the corner, and we need to keep the ladies and gentlemen safe. We can’t be left behind the NHS again, we need to make sure the guidelines they have are the same guidelines we have. Our company is making sure that we are ready for the next wave, making sure we are briefed and have everything we need. Hopefully, the government have all the infrastructure in place now, and the track and trace system will work properly.
Personally, I’m not as worried as I was, I’ve had coronavirus thankfully it was very mild I didn’t need to go to the hospital or anything. My husband and son have both had the symptoms but it was too late to have them tested. So we have been through that thank goodness, even though we both have to be tested every two weeks as part of our job just to make sure because no one know if you can contract it more than once. It’s all about making sure the homes are Covid free, and the best way to do that is to make sure that all the staff are tested regularly and keeping our ladies and gentlemen safe.