During the pandemic some of our day services have been offering a reduced service. As many customers stayed at home during lockdown. Several team members were re-deployed to provide support to our wider services.

We visited Homeside Close, a Residential Care Home for adults with learning disabilities to meet with John and Maxine who have been redeployed from Boyn Grove Learning Disability Day Service. We also chatted to Jo who has worked as a support worker at Homeside, for the last 18 years.

How does the role of support worker differ from your job at the Day Service?

Maxine: “I already did lots of personal care support at the centre and ran activities, so in that sense it is similar. I’ve also seen the side I did not see at the day centre, supporting the customers to get up and get ready for bed.”

John: “It’s not been too different, a lot of the tasks are similar and I’ve had previous experience working in residential care.”

How have you found it?

John: “It’s alright, no real change apart from working shifts.”

Maxine: “I have loved it, It’s been good to see a different side to support. I’ve known the staff for a long time to say hello to at the centre and they are mates now, I’ve fitted in with the team.”

Jo: “It has been lovely, we know John from before, as he worked as bank staff. It’s nice working with them and getting to know them better, as a person. They’ve got to see what customers can do and their preferences at home. They have introduced different activities, like quizzes with music which we never did before. And we have a karaoke machine. They have fitted in like one of us, doing all the personal care, cooking, cleaning and working shifts.”

How did you feel when you were asked to cover? 

Maxine: “I was worried about a huge change. I was told on Thursday and on Monday I started at the new place. I have worked 9 to 4 for 25 years and then suddenly, I was working shifts. Zuzana (assistant manager) has been flexible and offered me shifts during the week.”

John: “I was quite flexible, the only requirement for me was I needed somewhere walking distance from my house

as I don’t drive.”

How did you introduce them to the service? 

Jo: “They already knew the customers from the day service, and the customers were really excited to have them come to work at Homeside. They had an induction and did some shadow shifts.”

What have you learnt? 

Jo: “There has been a big difference in the activities we do, they gave us new ideas. The staff and customers are enjoying having a laugh and having fun.”

Maxine: “I’ve learnt about the customers and seen their full lives.”

John: “It’s been nice to get to know the staff and customers a bit better. You see people around the centre, but don’t always get to spend quality time with them.”

How has the organisation responded to the pandemic to ensure employee safety and wellbeing? 

Jo: “Some of the senior management team have come in to visit us. Its been good, they have been very helpful to support me to shield. And they have supported me to return to work, they offered me a phased return but I wanted to get back.

John: “They’ve responded quite well. It must be tough as we’ve not seen anything like this in our lifetime. The company have been decisive. David our CEO has come in at a very difficult time, but he has been very reassuring and welcoming. Zuzana and Charlotte (registered manager) have been very welcoming and supportive.”

Maxine: “I’ve felt safe and the customers have felt safe.”

Has anything surprised you? 

Jo: “Everyone has really adapted, it’s been good. Initially, some of the customers wanted to go shopping when lockdown first started, but as they were shielding we arranged for their items to be bought in.

Maxine: “The customers have adapted so well, considering they are used to going out every day.”

Are there any ways of working that you think you would continue? 

Jo: “We would probably do more arts and crafts and get everyone involved. Some of the people we support need a bit of encouragement to get involved, but really enjoy activities once they get started and put their whole heart into it. They’ve made a fantastic rainbow and decorations for the ice cream van.”