Throughout five days of snow, teams slept in care homes, took on the jobs of colleagues who could not get to the homes, and put on their snow boots to get medication and food supplies to ensure that, for residents, looking out at the snow was fun and not a problem.
The wider Care UK Residential Care Service team were on hand to help at Cavell Court, Cringleford, where the snow was five inches deep. Home manager Jennie Rodger explained: “We had just finished an internal meeting and several people from across Care UK, including the regional director and our national health and safety lead, had been staying at a local hotel. When they woke up and saw they snow, they managed to get to the home to help and they were wonderful. Those who were nurses and former carers found uniforms and got to work, while others made beds and helped out, which was welcome as, at 8am, not all members of our care team had been able to make it in. Other carers eventually managed to fight their way through the snow and, by 11.30am, we were back to where we would usually be, with lunch on the way and everyone up, dressed and getting on with activities. It is great to know that the organisation’s senior managers are committed to supporting residents and their colleagues and will roll up their sleeves to do whatever needs to be done.”
Four of the home’s night shift team stayed at the home all day, sleeping during the daytime so they would be ready to go back on duty that night. Others came to work with an overnight bag, so they could stay to ensure residents had a team onsite when they woke up. Jennie said: “We had a lovely evening. We had managed to get to a supermarket and bought pizza so that the team could all enjoy dinner together. It was a lovely evening and a real bonding experience.”
At Davers Court, in Bury St Edmunds, the residents and team were thankful for the professionalism and plucky spirit of their district nurse, who arrived with children and husband in tow. Home manager Wendy Harvey said: “She was on a day off, but she wanted to ensure that the residents had the clinical support they needed, and she knew other healthcare professionals may not have been able to get to the home. We were very grateful for her tenacity and dedication.”
The food deliveries were unable to get through to the home, so colleagues went to the local shops and braved the snow and ice to get fresh provisions in for everyone. Tilley, the home’s toy poodle, who is blind, enjoyed the sensory experience, playing in the snow, wagging her tail, and skipping up and down while residents went outside and made snowmen. Wendy, who slept at the home, said: “Cakes were bought for all the staff to say a very big thank you for braving the awful, hazardous roads. They were all wonderful and showed just what dedicated people do in the face of adversity: everyone does their very best.”
At the highest point of East Sussex, members of the team at Heather View walked to work, so treacherous were the roads. Home manager Natasha King said: “Our home is at the top of the hill and so was affected from the start of the wintery weather. I was delighted and amazed when I went to the home’s front door at 8am on Tuesday morning and found four of the team.
“They were not scheduled to work but they wanted to ensure residents and their colleagues were supported. They walked in from their homes to ensure we had sufficient people on duty, knowing that those who had to come from further away may not make it here.
“Our chef made hot chocolate for everyone who got to the home to warm them up and I set to work clearing the path. Two of our team even stayed over night to support the team and to make sure they avoided slips and trips on the way home that may have caused them to be off during the coming days.
Natasha and her team have put in plans to ensure the home will continue to run smoothly, whatever the weather brings over the next few days.
She said: “I am very proud to have such as dedicated team who will go the extra mile whatever the weather.”