How care homes are adapting to provide vital care during the Coronavirus outbreak

Published Thursday, 23rd April 2020

There are 179 care homes across Worcestershire, that are continuing to provide vital care for some of the county’s most vulnerable people during the coronavirus outbreak.

Howbury House in Malvern is a residential home providing permanent care for people with care and support needs, including dementia.

The first main impact of changes in the way the home was run, was felt on 20th March, when the decision was taken to close the home to visitors. From this date the home had to review the way they worked in many different ways.

With a number of staff identified as being in at risk groups, the home faces daily challenges in staffing. 

Jackie Creese, Manager at Howbury House, said: “To enable me to be able to manage the rotas, the staff team have shown great commitment and flexibility. They have gone above and beyond to support me, and one member of the senior staff has even moved into the house to ensure senior cover during the night. This highlights the care, love and dedication our staff have towards our residents.

The home is being supported by colleagues who have transferred over from other teams within the County Council, this has offered support to the current home staff and has also provided an opportunity for staff to learn new skills.

One of the toughest impacts of the pandemic is that residents aren’t allowed to have any visitors. To combat this the home has installed an iPad to enable the resident’s families to contact them, this has been so successful, that the home intends to continue using the technology in the future.

Jackie added: “The joy that our residents get from seeing and speaking to their families is great to witness. There is no better job satisfaction than seeing our residents’ happy and learning new things too.” 

Dementia can, at times, cause high levels of anxiety, insecurity and emotions and people living with dementia do not always understand or remember why things need to happen and it is vitally important that carers support them through this and respond to their individual needs and help them feel safe. 

Jackie added: “Social distancing is challenging and near on impossible, as we still need to provide personal care, reassurance, and meaningful activities. This is now done with the use of full PPE including wearing masks, which is something our residents are not used to on a regular basis. Masks also hide our smiles which is very important to us and to our residents. Smiling and facial expressions are a vital form of communication; however, we can still sing.

Another challenge has been ensuring that residents have access to medical support, particularly with the local GP Practice. The County Council has helped to support with this, as in partnership with health colleagues, an iPad has been supplied to enable virtual nurse and GP consultations and this has seen a positive response from residents and staff.

Jackie finished off by saying: “These are tough times, but the desire and dedication shown by the staff at Howbury is great to see. We have one focus and that’s to provide the best care possible for our residents.

“Families keep in touch and we have received lots of thank you cards, chocolates, biscuits, flowers and plants which is lovely and keeps us going.

“I’m very proud of the whole team at Howbury for their hard work, loyalty and commitment to our residents, home and Worcestershire County Council. A massive thank you to each and every one of them."

Kelly, a Senior Care Worker at Howbury House gave us a glipse of life on the frontline. Read the full story at: Life on the frontline during the Coronavirus outbreak