Looking back on a year of extremes

With the end of January marking a year since the UK’s first confirmed case of Covid-19, Samantha Harrison, Director of Continued Care, reflects on an unprecedented 12 months.

How do we even begin to look back over a year that has been unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before?

The past 12 months have brought with them some real extremes of highs and lows, as Covid has taken over everything. The biggest thing for us has been keeping our service users and staff safe.

On the one hand, the year has been so challenging, exhausting and relentless that we’ve hardly had time to catch our breath and reflect on it all.

But, on the other hand, as with all difficult situations, many positives have also emerged, and it’s these that we’ll be focusing on here.

Our incredible staff

The way our staff have reacted to the Covid-19 pandemic has been nothing short of incredible. Even when dealing with their own fears and challenges both at work and at home, every single member of the Continued Care team has responded with an astounding level of commitment, determination, patience and resilience, to ensure the consistency and quality of home care that our service users need and deserve.

Our frontline carers have been absolutely awe-inspiring. The dedication, compassion and care they have shown in supporting our service users has been remarkable. They have worked tirelessly to look after some of the most vulnerable people in our communities, in circumstances that just a year ago we could never have imagined.

Our rota co-ordinators have also done an amazing job of reacting at a moment’s notice to changes in the availability of carers. With versatility and initiative, they have been the lynchpin in the smooth running of our service.

Together, we have grown immeasurably and learned so much. We have lived through an experience we will never forget. Throughout it all, it has been truly inspiring and an absolute privilege to work alongside each and every one of our staff members. We cannot thank them enough for everything they have done.

New ways of working

As a company, we’ve had to be responsive and innovative about the way we work. We’ve had to find different ways of doing things, and implement new ways of training our staff.

The procedures and systems that were already in place have been tested to the limit and shown us what works well and what can be improved. Many of the changes we’ve made have strengthened our service, and will remain and be built upon after the pandemic is over. Our business is more robust now than ever.

One of the things that we had implemented shortly before the pandemic has really come into its own. Our new portal for our service users and their family and friends  allows them to see a range of useful information, such as expected call times and notes written by carers. At a time when family and friends have not been able to visit as much as usual, this has provided reassurance that their loved one is being looked after.

Collaborations

Another positive to come out of our response to the pandemic has been that the relationship between Continued Care and many of the health and social care organisations we work with has become a lot closer, especially in complex cases.

The collaboration between ourselves and GPs, district nurses and commissioners has definitely strengthened and developed, and it will continue to do so.  We also have a positive and dynamic relationship with social services, and this is going from strength to strength.

Ultimately, this means we can achieve better results for all our service users.

Kindness of strangers

The kindness of strangers will really stand out for us when we look back on our experiences of the past year. We’ve been truly overwhelmed by so many lovely gestures that it’s hard to count. There have been the passers-by in the street who’ve thanked our staff upon spotting their uniforms, or the many offers of help we’ve received. The spontaneous acts of thoughtfulness and generosity have been amazing, such as the gentlemen who paid for a carer’s supermarket shopping after standing behind her in the queue or the neighbour who left Easter eggs on the bonnet of a carer’s car.

We’ve had job enquiries from people who have been inspired by the pandemic to change career and begin a role in care. Anyone joining the health and social care sector at this moment through a desire to help others is truly to be admired. Many of our new staff have previously worked in customer-facing roles and so already have strong skills in that respect, which is a real asset to our team.

Bringing out the best

Despite everything that Covid-19 has thrown at us, what will remain long after it is over will be how it brought out some of the very best qualities in our people and in those around us. It has made us stronger, more resilient and more adaptable, and it has shown us how compassionate, dedicated and kind we all can be.

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