The Care Industry Meets the Challenge of the Snow

The inclement weather earlier this year has not beaten the care industry as staff from all areas of the health and social care sector meet this particular challenge head on.

Health Secretary Andy Burnham joined the voices of NHS Trust Managers, Social Services Care Managers and Private Sector Managers to sing the praises of all staff in their efforts to get to work during the prolonged wintery spell.

Managers and staff were very aware of the vulnerability of the sick and elderly particularly those in their own homes if carers were unable to get to them. Consequently staff went to inordinate lengths to ensure that they got where they needed to be.

Kerry Brooks is the Managing Director of a domiciliary care company operating in rural Yorkshire and explains what happened to her and her care staff one day in February.
“It can be difficult to get around in such a rural spot at the best of times, but this was made much worse by the heavy snow. My heart missed a beat when I got up one Wednesday morning last month and saw about 10 inches of snow on the ground. Not least because Wednesdays is one of our busiest days, I knew this was going to be a real problem.”

Kerry continues “I had to dig myself out of the house and then dig the car out of the drive, by the time I had made the 45 minute drive to work, which normally takes me less than five minutes I had to dig myself into the office.”

“There were 12 messages on the answer phone - all from care staff stuck and unable to get to their first clients. Myself and another member of staff who was actually on a day off, but had walked round to the office to see if she could help out phoned all the clients and told them that we would do our very best to get to them, but asked for their patience. All the clients were very understanding. I was then astonished and very moved by the efforts my care staff made to get to these clients. Several walked long distances to get there, even more persevered with their car journeys even though the time taken was twice as long as it should have been. I even had two carers who borrowed their husband’s tractors in order to get to their clients!”

“I am very pleased to say all but one care call was completed on that day. This was a huge achievement in the circumstances.”

Debbie Watson is a night nurse manager of a large busy care home in Gloucester and had a similar experience one night when no less that 14 staff called her in the early hours of a Sunday morning in January to say that they thought they were going to be unable to get to work that morning.

Fortunately Debbie was able to call on the services of her husband who has a four wheel drive vehicle and he was able to pick up staff from their own homes, including kitchen and domestic staff to get them all to the care home to start their shift.

Debbie and several of the night staff were unable to leave the care home until the majority of the day staff were present. Consequently they set to and began preparing breakfast for the residents and dispensing the essential morning medication despite having been on duty for over 15 hours!

Stories such as these demonstrate the resilience and commitment of all those staff that make up the health and social care industry. Let us hope we have seen the last of the snow for this year.

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