Life on the frontline at a Care Centre
“It can be quite emotional at times…but the spirit of all our people, the staff and our families - how everyone has come together, has been so special."
These are the words of Lisa Mussett who has told of life behind the scenes at Meadowgate Intermediate Care Centre in Eston during the lockdown.
The experienced manager, whose residents have had to go into isolation in their bedrooms and families have been unable to visit, says the focus has remained firmly on the wellbeing of the people in her and her team's care.
Lisa explained that Meadowgate is a new specialist centre which takes people coming out of hospital with various health problems. Her dedicated team work on helping them regain independence so they can go home which means beds can be freed up at James Cook University Hospital.
“Helping people regain their independence is what we're all about, and that crucial work has not stopped," she says, explaining that some of her staff have been forced to stay at home for health reasons. “We take people out of their rooms individually and must be very careful. We take people to the gym or the garden and work with them.
“Our team also work one-to-one with them in their rooms. There's been a lot of arts and crafts and we've been doing 'bedroom bingo' and quizzes. It takes a lot of running around from staff shouting out numbers and questions for everyone to hear."
Each day begins with all staff having their temperature taken and staff must change into their uniforms on site. The flexible rota is designed to ensure that members of staff are not in physical contact to reduce the risk of infection between them. More time is spent on cleaning and changing into the right protective equipment.
Throughout the day staff are talking to families, updating and reassuring them as best they can along with sending photos via email. In normal times families and friends can visit twice a day.
Individuals in the centre are encouraged to talk to loved ones via Skype. “We had a really emotional one today," said Lisa. “We have a lovely gentleman who has been in hospital for a long time and today was the first day he could actually see his daughter – who lives away - since Christmas Day. Emotions were running high, but it was a lovely moment when the video link worked. The families need reassurance but, at the same time, they've been so supportive of us and I can't tell you how much everyone appreciates that."
At lunchtimes colleagues have been taking turns to make communal meals. “Today was a beautiful corned beef pie made by a member of the team," smiles Lisa. “It's a way to manage time efficiently but at the same time keep everyone's spirits up and keep that wonderful team spirit going. It was also lovely that our kitchen staff made a rainbow cake as a sign of hope for the residents and staff."
The care workers are spending more one-on-one time with individuals in their rooms and making sure everyone is stimulated. “We have a man who loves classical music, so we make sure he can listen to that," says Lisa, who was worked in care for more than 20 years. “Someone else loves gardens, so it's important she spends time there. There are lovely relationships building but, at the same time, the work getting people ready for home must not stop. All the exercise and preparation regimes for independence are continuing."
Colleagues are regularly shown videos and given information on preventing infection - “It must not slip, not at all," says Lisa – and the12-hour day shift ends with staff getting changed and updating their colleagues coming in to take over.
Lisa explains that the £5 million care centre opened last November. “It really has been such a privilege to work with all our residents and my fantastic colleagues and spend so much time talking to our families and the community, for example, we've had a local company, Pendraken Miniatures, who have made visors for the staff.
“When this is over the work will continue and I'm sure this incredible, special team spirit will carry on as well."
Councillor Mary Ovens, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, said: “The team at Meadowgate is always excellent and it is no surprise to me that they have risen to the challenge of coping during the lockdown so well. I would like to take the opportunity to praise the hard work and dedication of care workers in all our homes and centres right across the borough who are going to work every day to give such crucial support to some of our most vulnerable people. You are all heroes."