The tragic consequences of coronavirus on care staff and residents has been laid bare in a powerful account by a Somerset care home.
Linden House in Wellington lost almost a third of its residents as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, and had 80% of its staff self-isolating over the Christmas period.
Sandra Joyce, owner of Linden House, has detailed the daily heartbreak, anxiety, and exhaustion care staff experienced at the hands of a virus that takes no prisoners.
Council Leader David Fothergill said: “I would like to thank Sandra and all the staff at Linden House for their tremendous courage and fortitude. By bravely sharing their story, they have once again put social care in the spotlight.
“They are not alone – behind closed doors, this merciless virus has had a devastating impact on all care homes. This is not a reflection on anyone working in the care sector, who deserve the highest praise for going above and beyond in unimaginable circumstances.
“We have repeatedly called for greater recognition of social care and will continue to do so ahead of the Government’s proposals for reform which are due to be published later this year.”
Sandra said: “We are now over the worst of the outbreak at Linden House, but the emotional toll coronavirus has taken on our residents, staff, and families is not going to go away quickly. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my staff. Those who did not succumb to Covid-19 at the very beginning of the outbreak worked unbelievably hard in horrendous conditions: working gruelling shifts with few breaks to cover staff who tested positive, watching in horror as loved residents died, with barely a break to cry.
“Despite this, not one of them complained to me. In fact, they continually offered to do more. Many of them (when they eventually tested positive themselves) would call me in tears, feeling that they had let down those of us left working.
“It’s lonely out here as a small provider but I feel so blessed to have a job that I adore. It is impossible not to form strong, loving bonds in social care, and I feel honoured that I get to spend time at work with people who start off as complete strangers and within a very short time become part of the family.”
Tim Baverstock, Deputy Director of Adult Social Care at Somerset County Council, highlighted Sandra’s story in a recent blog. In it he wrote: “I have been saddened to hear of care homes being blamed for lockdown, with some speculating that they are driving local outbreaks and no-go areas.
“In fact, it’s quite the reverse. Community transmission brought the virus into care homes, and the nature of personal care (i.e. staff and residents living and working in close proximity where social distancing is simply impossible) allowed it spread quickly from person to person. The impact this has had on residents and staff has been absolutely devastating.
“I am tremendously grateful for all those who see their care home not as a place of work, but as a family. It is going to take them a long time to get over what has happened to those they cared for, and we must never, ever forget the personal sacrifices they have made. They are the unsung heroes of the pandemic.”
Join courageous and dedicated health and social care professionals in the fight against coronavirus – visit: www.proudtocaresomerset.org.uk
The Somerset Coronavirus Support Helpline number, 0300 790 6275, is open seven days a week from 8am to 6pm, offering a range of support – from help accessing food or medicines, to emotional and financial support, and employment, skills and business advice.