Whiteley carer tells her pandemic story in National Care Forum’s new e-book

24th December 2020

Katie Boyle, a care assistant from The Whiteley Homes Trust has shared her story of caring for our residents during the pandemic in the new Caring in Covid e-book  from the National Care Forum (NCF). You can also hear her telling her story in their online Advent Calendar, where she is featured as the Christmas Eve `window`.

As a member of the NCF, the leading association for not-for-profit social care providers, The Whiteley Homes Trust was invited to submit stories for the Forum’s new e-book on the themes of care, community and leadership. These show how staff and volunteers rose to the challenge of supporting those who needed it most during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to Katie’s story, Caring in Covid also features Nigel Bradshaw, a furloughed volunteer who used his retail expertise to help manage the Whiteley Village Shop and grocery delivery service during lockdown. We’ll be sharing more about Nigel’s story later in the new year.

The NCF said: “The experiences of the care sector during what has been a relentless and sometimes-thankless task of caring and supporting some of the most vulnerable in our communities during the pandemic deserves to be recorded as an important record of social history. [This book] records and highlights the incredible response from NCF members, brought together as a collection of real-life stories.

You can listen to Katie telling her story by clicking on window 24 of the NCF’s advent calendar here, or read it below:

Stories from the frontline: Katie Boyle, Care Assistant  

Katie Boyle, began her career as a care assistant for the Whiteley Homes Trust in January 2020 working in the charity’s nursing home, the Eliza Palmer Hub, but she could not have anticipated just how challenging the months ahead would be. “This is my first permanent position after qualifying, so COVID-19 certainly threw me in at the deep end” she said. “But although it’s been very tough at times, I feel a true sense of pride to be part of such a reliable and fantastic team.”

“Whiteley is completely different to the other places where I trained. There’s a genuine team spirit here and I feel very supported by my managers who have ensured we’ve never run short of PPE since the beginning of the pandemic. I believe this, and the systems put in place since the start of the pandemic, have been extremely effective in protecting our residents and our team.

“Astonishingly, so far, we’ve only had two cases in the Hub, both of whom we nursed back to health and and a handful of other cases in the rest of the Village. Of course, we’re not out of the woods yet, but our success so far in helping keep resident’s safe is something we’re all very relieved about and proud of.”

Katie said one of the hardest jobs for the team during lockdown was keeping residents’ spirits up through the weeks of isolation from their families and each other. “Residents had to stay in their rooms for most of the day and only two or three could sit in the dining area at a time. Many found it daunting seeing us in full PPE and it’s also difficult to communicate effectively with a mask on, especially for those who are hard of hearing. It is emotional at times, but everyone works hard to reassure our residents.

“When restrictions were relaxed it was still difficult to organise enough visits with loved ones as we couldn’t meet indoors safely. We put up gazebos in the garden but sometimes it was just too cold or windy. So, the Portals and iPads that were donated to our charity to enable residents to video call their loved ones were very gratefully received. You couldn’t help but cry sometimes when you saw how thrilled residents were to see their families and friends.

“The last few months have summed up so much about why I love my job. It can be extremely physically and emotionally difficult, but it really is one of the most rewarding jobs you can do. It means a lot to me and to the other care assistants and nurses that every resident knows they matter, and we’ve all worked hard to keep them as comfortable and happy as possible. I am sure the team’s optimism and enthusiasm has really helped get residents through the last few months and it’s a team I’m really proud to be a part of!”

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