Care UK has over 4,700 carers in 50 branches who travel to people’s homes to provide services ranging from to cooking meals to changing catheters and the recent snowy weather continues to makes their job particularly challenging. As Libby Eastley, Home Care Business Development Director for Care UK explained: “About 75 per cent of the people that we support live in streets which are not gritted and lots are in quite remote locations.
A great many of our dedicated carers are being absolute heroes in making sure that essential care is delivered. Carers in areas like Newcastle and Kent have found that they are unable to use their cars to reach their calls so have taken to walking miles and miles through deep snow or trying to use public transport which is also affected by the weather. One team leader in Bromley trekked over 15 miles through icy paths in one day to reach the most vulnerable people in her round.
Care UK’s office based teams and managers are also joining the effort. Many have volunteered to help by co-ordinating calls, drafting up rotas and even delivering care where they have the training and experience.
Libby Eastley continued: “Earlier this year, we drew up a contingency plan for extreme weather making good use of our experience from last winter and that plan has been put into operation this week. Regional and local managers are helping our branches at a very practical level. First task is to prioritise which of our service users has the greatest need – this will be people who need personal care such as help with going to the toilet, taking medication or with preparing or eating meals.
We’ve also talked to the families of people that we care for as some of them live locally so are able to help their relatives for a day or two which frees up our staff to focus on the people who have no-one help them.”
Care UK pays particular tribute to a very special group of volunteers who have been helping their carers get to the most inaccessible homes – members of four-wheel drive clubs have been driving carers to calls in Derbyshire, Kent, and Essex.
Libby Eastley said: “This support from the four-wheel drive clubs has been a godsend. It not only means that we can reach some of the more remote places but also helps our carers to get between calls more quickly than they would on foot so service users can receive more visits. I’d like to offer members of the clubs my sincere thanks.”
In Lincolnshire, Care UK staff have worked with social services colleagues to arrange for two elderly people that they support to go into nearby nursing homes as they could not reach their houses to deliver much needed care.
Care UK’s Managing Director in charge of home care, Debi Marriott-Boam is proud of the Dunkirk spirit that the Care UK staff have shown. She said: “Our front line carers have shown enormous determination and courage in making sure that, despite some awful travelling conditions, all of the vulnerable people we support have received at least the basic care they need.
This shows why our staff are so special - they continuously demonstrate that they can make a real difference to the lives of the people they support and work tirelessly to find ways of delivering a great service even when the weather is keeping many people indoors. On behalf of the people that they support and colleagues at Care UK, I’d like to say a big thank you to every single one of them. “