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National Day of Reflection – a message from Martin Rix, Chief Operating Officer

It is more than a year since the pandemic first swept across the country and the globe. Within NorseCare, the impact of the pandemic for our residents, tenants and staff has been profound. It now feels vital to take stock, to pause and to reflect upon how the virus has impacted us and those we care for. The National Day of Reflection provides us with an opportunity to do so.

Firstly, it must be acknowledged that, prior to the pandemic, the social care sector was already under huge pressure. The NHS, of course, has been facing equally critical challenges. Add to that the fact that health and social care continue to work largely independently of each other, and you had an already precarious situation.

Successive governments had acknowledged the significant issues that existed but have failed to deliver solutions, while those working in the sector have had to cope with the inadequacies. So, when you introduce the devastating impact of coronavirus, the extreme difficulties we have seen on the frontline of care and health is far from surprising.

Martin Rix, NorseCare COOFrom the outset, the most important consideration for us has been the safety and wellbeing of our residents and tenants, and that of our staff. This has meant we have, at times, had to restrict the usual freedoms of those we care for, including greater controls over visits from friends and families in line with Government advice.

As a care provider, this is the very last thing we would wish to do. We know just how important these interactions are to the psychological and emotional wellbeing of our residents and tenants, and to that of their families.

Trying to balance this very human need with the life and death risks coronavirus poses to some of the most vulnerable people in our communities has been an ongoing challenge, with no easy or right answer. The effects of lessened contact throughout the year has undoubtedly taken its toll, despite our best efforts to mitigate it.

Despite this, most of our residents and tenants, and their families, have been extremely understanding, supportive and resilient, and I can’t express how much that this has meant to our staff, and how much easier it has made our job of keeping those we care for as safe as possible.

Most heart breaking of all has been the loss of life to the virus. Every life lost deserves time for deep mourning and reflection. The families and friends of those who did not survive remain in my thoughts and in those of my colleagues. Our sympathies remain with them; their loss is acknowledged; we continue to care.

That sense of community and concern throughout the pandemic has been a shared experience across health and care services and has had a profound impact on our staff. I’m sure many, if not all, would say that their experiences over the past year have been life changing.

From the outset they have faced extremely difficult situations, including risks to their own health, without complaint or hesitation. They have listened to and supported each other, and they have endured. All of this alongside the inevitable pressures that have existed in their lives outside work.

And, most importantly, while working to ever changing guidance and infection control procedures, they have supported our residents, tenants and their families through the challenges and fulfilled their vital roles of tending to people’s care needs.

I cannot express strongly enough the pride I feel for our staff and their achievements. Their work should not be forgotten and without it, I am sure that the lives of our residents and tenants would have been immeasurably more difficult than it has.

Outside of our doors, but very much on our doorsteps, we have also seen the positive support of our local communities coming together to offer help, gifts and kind messages. This not only demonstrates the fundamental kindness of people, but it shows just how integral our homes and schemes are within their local communities. When times were at their toughest in care, this kind of support has helped our residents and staff to remember that they remained a part of and are appreciated by wider society.

As we look to the future, I am cautiously optimistic that brighter days lay ahead. The delivery of the vaccine brings hope for all at NorseCare, and we all hope we can continue to increase freedoms and access over the coming weeks and months.

Personally I hope too that, if there is one positive from the pandemic, it is that by having shone a light on the crucial and wonderful work in social care, it is finally fully recognised for the critical role it plays in society. With that, I hope will come a long term, sustainable plan including integration with health services.

I am so very proud to work with so many wonderful people in caring services and immensely grateful for the way they have supported each other. All of us have had days when we have struggled, and I have no shame in admitting this applies to me. I would encourage anybody who feels like they need help to reach out to family, friends or colleagues, there will always be somebody that can help and there is always a way to address problems over time with the right support.

My final reflection is that, through the resilience and love of our residents, tenants, their families, their communities and our staff, I have seen the absolute best that humanity has to offer. The pandemic reminds us that life is fleeting and should never be taken for granted. Be kind to each other and always cherish your family and friends.

Martin Rix
Chief Operating Officer
NorseCare

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