During the COVID-19 pandemic, many health and care services have had to change the way they work.
Wirral’s Care & Support at Home Service, (also known as Domiciliary Care), provides wraparound personal care for people in their own homes.
Commissioned by Wirral Health & Care Commissioning, a partnership between the Council’s Adult Social Services and the NHS Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), this ambitious service supports individuals with a range of needs - from personal care, more complex care to rehabilitation following accidents and more.
With restrictions around social distancing and entering people’s homes, the carers providing this service have faced innumerable challenges over the last 12 months.
But recent figures from December 2020 show that during the crisis, the service continued to support more than 1600 of the borough’s most vulnerable, with hundreds of dedicated care workers collectively delivering nearly 16,000 hours of care every week.
We spoke to two of Wirral’s registered domiciliary care providers about how the Coronavirus has affected their work and how the sector adapted.
Here’s what they had to say…
Gilian Smith and Clare McGregor (pictured) are Carers at Community Caring Ltd. They explain how the last 12 months has made them feel more valued in their work.
Gilian said: “This year I have felt more appreciated and valued by the community, my clients and their families than during the previous 21 years working as a Domiciliary Carer.
“While challenging, this support has made my role within the community even more satisfying and rewarding knowing I’m making a difference to people’s lives and helping others during the pandemic. I feel proud to be a carer and to be part of a great team."
Clare said: “The pandemic hasn’t been easy for anyone. However, it has been a privilege to be able to continue to work and to care for our vulnerable clients, reassuring them throughout these uncertain times.
“Clap For Carers was so uplifting for us. A lady stopped me in the street whilst I was working in between my care visits and told me that I should be so proud of myself for working through COVID as it can’t be easy.
“It is a job that I love and one that I am committed to.”
As the crisis took hold in March 2020, the local authority, care providers and health sector partners worked together to solve issues quickly and safely for the benefit of staff and the local people they were caring for.
Via a network made up of health and care staff from across the sector, the group got PPE out to staff who needed it early in the pandemic, introduced testing for staff in a way which is now established and supports early isolation of COVID-19 positive staff members and rolled out the vaccination program to domiciliary care providers from mid January 2021.
For care settings, the network supported them getting access to financial support through the infection prevention grants, ensured the take up of the Real Living Wage offer across all providers and holds regular briefing to discuss ideas and support across the sector.
Beverley Peers, Registered Manager at Community Caring Ltd, said: “I know that every one of us has worked tirelessly since March 2020 and continues to do so - supporting one another and most of all doing everything within our power to keep people safe - especially our vulnerable clients. I couldn’t be more proud of my team.
“Wirral Council has been utterly supportive and been with us, working together, since the beginning of this crisis too. They have led by example, pre-empting issues and dealing with challenges as we faced them.
“I cannot emphasise enough that this kind of collaborative working has been invaluable to us during this time.”
Hazel Murphy, Registered Manager at Premier Care Wirral, said: “The steadfast and supportive approach taken by the local authority has been outstanding in ensuring we could maintain stable services and a ‘business as usual’ approach during the pandemic.”
While challenges were abundant, care providers have worked closely with Wirral’s Adult Social Care and Health services to ensure the needs of the vulnerable were met, without any significant downtime.
Cllr Yvonne Nolan, Chair of Wirral Council’s Adult Social Care and Health committee, said: “Throughout this crisis we have seen individual and collective acts of commitment to support the vulnerable from our health and care workers across the board.
“I am so proud of, and grateful for, the work that our domiciliary and other care givers, along with our local authority colleagues, have done to see Wirral through the last 12 months – overcoming many difficulties while managing to deliver a fantastic level of care.
“From me, and I’m sure I speak for the borough on this one, it’s a massive thank you.”