For many of us, working from home has become the new normal. The makeshift desks, the numerous zoom calls and trying to ignore the urge to make yourself a cup of tea every 15 minutes.
Across the country, however, there are those on the frontline playing a critical role in keeping our loved ones safe.
One woman has made it her mission to make sure this isn’t a period of negativity for her residents, or her staff. Lucy Craig, who owns two care homes in the North-East of England, Cramlington House and West Farm, and her team are going beyond the call of duty to bring innovation, creativity and positivity to their residents.
“If anything, the virus has just brought everyone a little bit closer together.” Lucy explains. “I have a staff team of over 200 people who live and breathe for the residents. They spend their weekends, their evenings and their shifts when they’re not in, coming up with brilliant ideas on how to entertain them.
“We started with those Love Actually boards, with our residents saying, ‘Coronavirus can do one', and yesterday, one of the girls built an ice-cream van with a little jingle and she took it all around the home!
“It’s absolutely phenomenal, she’s clearly spent hours and hours and hours on this thing, and it's just about bringing joy to our residents. And for me therefore, it was just about bringing support to our staff, because we don’t know what’s going to hit us, we don’t know what we’re facing and I wanted them to see that I was prepared to step up, support them and give them all the things that they needed.
“I’ve said to all my staff, ‘give me some ideas of things you’d like me to do for you because we’re all going through such a horrendously difficult time.’ Everybody’s just been absolutely phenomenal.”
Whether it’s ice cream, a video call with a loved one or even the chance to listen to some music, (singer Alfie Dobson has made the car-park his very own stage), the residents are always entertained.
“My kind of mantra has been, to anyone I’ve spoken to, ‘when we get through this and come out the other side, the words I never want to say are ‘I wish I had’. Because believe me, if I lose anybody through this period, be it a resident or a member of staff, I will carry that personally because that’s the person that I am. So it’s not about money, it’s not about profit, it’s not about anything other than getting people through this period of time, because I would just never forgive myself if there was something I could have done that I just didn’t do.
“Whatever it costs, I will not compromise on the care the residents have, particularly at this time when the residents are very anxious. For me, it’s a no brainer. “
Lucy isn’t compromising on her staff either, making sure they are as well looked after as the residents. She’s secured a deal with the local food supplier, so all staff are able to get discounted items for them and their family, while Lucy has also made sure her staff are covered when it comes to travel.
“It’s just about them not having to worry about getting to a supermarket. I don’t want my staff and their families to worry about having to get home, to get to a supermarket, to say ‘have you got this? Have you got that?’ So it’s for them and it’s for their families and I just want them to know that anything they need, I am supplying for them.
“And there were a couple of people we knew who were taxi drivers, and their work has literally dried up so it was like ‘fine, come and drive for us.’ They’re known to us, they’re taxi drivers and they’ve lost a lot of work, so now they pick up the staff. Mainly weekend and night staff when they can’t get into work, so they haven’t got to think, ‘What time’s my bus? Will I be in? Will I be late?’ It’s just my way of saying to them, ‘don’t worry about the detail, I’ll look after you throughout this period of them’ and that allows them to care for the residents and not worry about anything else. If and when, the virus comes through our door, a member of staff falls ill with it, they’ll be fully paid. For me, it’s a no brainer, given the commitment and what they’re doing.
“I just want to help keep the momentum going. If my staff come to me and say I’ve had an idea to do this, this and this, then they’re doing it for all the right reasons. So as long as our residents are at the centre of everything we do, then for me, it’s absolutely yes. I’m doing it because I genuinely, genuinely care and my staff are the ones that make it what it is.”