During the COVID-19 pandemic, Brentwood Care Centre’s team have pulled together, supporting residents and loved ones during a difficult time. However, there are two members of the team who have been beacons of shining light during what have, sometimes, been worrying and frustrating times.
Receptionist Jennifer and Administrator Karen, have been nominated as finalists in the South East Great British Care Awards Covid Heroes.
Early on in the pandemic, RCH generated visual and high impact training to support staff. Jennifer and Karen both ensured that staff had the training and access to the resources provided.
“I have worked in care for the last 10 years and, in that time, I’ve never experienced anything before like this Pandemic.” – Karen
Although it was widely reported about the shortages of resources and supplies, Karen and Jennifer in the initial weeks were a force to be reckoned with and double trouble in ensuring that suppliers and supplies were never affected, “I have worked in care now for 9 years and COVID has changed so much. Parts of my role such as ordering supplies which were usually pretty straight forward, almost overnight became so much harder to locate and secure, thankfully thanks to the hours spent on the phone we never had any issues with our suppliers.” – Jennifer
Jennifer and Karen not only look at what is best for our residents and families, and go above and beyond with our visiting, they also look after our staff wellbeing too! When panic buying saw shelves emptied of essential supplies, and with care and nursing staff working 12-hour shifts, Karen and Jennifer organised BRAG, a local community group to deliver bread, cakes and soft food be delivered to the home. These kind donations from the local community group kept staff morale up and ensured everyone had essential supplies so they could continue to work without worrying about how they would find their essential foods when finishing work.
One of the main focuses of their roles is communication and, during the initial first months, that is exactly what they did, nonstop. They went above and beyond to ensure that families were kept informed, never complaining about having to repeat information on numerous occasions, their main focus was to give comfort and reassurance to residents’ loved ones.
They helped organise Facetime and Skype sessions to ensure that loved ones could still communicate with one another and then arranged the organised garden visits when these were allowed. When family members have been able to come to visit loved ones, they have been prepared by both Jennifer and Karen in ensuring PPE is not a cause of anxiety. Karen has ensured that each family member visiting is aware of what they have to wear and where they have to attend to be screened. “Visiting has to be well organised and we have to be on point with the visiting times and sanitising of the areas to keep our residents and families safe; communication with all departments within our home is key to make sure that the visits are not only special but safe.”- Karen
Each person is then met by Jennifer who guides and assists in the donning and doffing of PPE and supports the visits between the resident and their family member. “At Brentwood Care Centre we are so used to families being able to visit the home coming and going, being part of our daily lives, some of our residents have been with us a long time and we get to know the families as much as we know the residents so in a way, we are like one big extended family. Visiting has changed so much, it’s important that during the family visits, because they can be really emotional, I am not only there to support the resident but also to offer support to the families. We’ve just opened our new Day Lodge; it not only allows the families to visit in comfort over the Winter period but they can have more than 1 person visiting them at a time which means we can get more visits in and enables the families to visit more frequently.” – Jennifer
Residents’ birthdays and anniversaries have continued to be celebrated during this pandemic. Jennifer has worked hard decorating residents’ rooms and our marquee with balloons and banners, and ensuring our chef has made celebrations cakes to mark these special days. Karen has kept in contact with families and organised Facetime calls, window visits or visits in the garden, organising every detail to ensure memorable days could still be shared but that this would be done in a way to keep residents, family members and staff safe in our environment.
“It is extremely important that Residents have contact with their loved ones and I am really happy that I get play a pivotal part of making that happen. When each visit is over, I sit with the families and residents to get their next visit booked in, it’s reassuring and comforting for families and residents to know that their next visit has been booked. It has been a really difficult time for all of us, but with us all working and pulling through together and adjusting, we have managed to keep making our visits special.” – Karen
Jennifer and Karen have taken everything in their stride, dealt with families, residents and staff anxieties and have provided a continued calm approach, and all with a sense of humour, kindness and a smile.
Manager Torie commented, “Jennifer and Karen are a vital part of our team and real heroes! While they both shy away from the limelight, it is a privilege to nominate them both for this award to recognise the invaluable work they have done during this pandemic. They have helped and supported so many people, we cannot thank them enough for the kindness, dedication and strength they have shown to our team, residents and families”.