Posted: 6 April 2020
Nicki Bones is CEO of SweetTree, a CQC rated outstanding domiciliary care company, offering services across London. Here she talks about her team as unsung heroes who are determined to continue doing their job despite the risks of working with people who have or have suspected Covid-19.
I think it's important to say to all the carers out there, not just my staff, thank you and well done. A huge reason people keep doing their job is because they have great relationships with the people that they work with. They wouldn’t dream of letting them down because they are people they know well or have perhaps looked after for a very long time. They understand their vulnerabilities and anxieties, so they are wanting to provide comfort and support as much as they wanting to provide the normal care.
Their carers are sometimes the only people they see, and quite a few of our clients have been watching the news on their own and feeling anxious; therefore, some have had additional care to support them with that. We have different services covering brain injury, learning disability, dementia and elderly care.
One of our learning disability clients has been unwell, not related to Covid-19, but the virus has heightened her anxiety, and she said that her carer had been ‘a soft pillow to her very broken soul.’ It gives you goosebumps to hear that!
One of our other carers has practically moved in with a client who has Huntingdon’s Disease so he would only have one carer to reduce the risk - that is just incredible and is safest way for us to do this. Those examples of really thinking things through and going the extra mile is wonderful.
To protect the health of our team we have done a lot additional training including Covid-19 infection control presentations, and protocols of how to keep themselves and our clients safe - including when and how to wash your hands and how to use PPE.
We have hired some cars to support people getting around where it is most difficult with drivers/ carers to assist our clients and reduce some need of public transport.
Our IT manager has been working round the clock to get our back-office staff on our phone system with VPN and all our software programmes to allow them to work from home. We are holding virtual meetings which has tremendously helped us to keep the business running.
I’m sending out a lot of communications to help people, and a lot of that has been saying thank you. Additional communication has been advice and guidance about things like key workers letters or PPE. Our owner, Barry Sweetbaum, and I are doing a video for all of our support workers so they know we are here if they need us and to offer reassurance too.
I think the professionalism of carers in this crisis needs to be acknowledged and this will encourage people to think about a career pathway in care.
We are seeing carers really looking after each other. We have one carer who is possibly ill with Covid-19 and a colleague carer went out in one of our hire cars to get her some paracetamol. That sort of human kindness is lovely and reminds me why I love this job so much.