In the latest of our #Time2TalkCare articles, Bluebird Care gives you an insight in to what it’s been like providing a home and live-in care service to vulnerable people in their own homes during the COVID19 pandemic.
At the risk of making a huge understatement, March was a really strange month, full of worry and uncertainty about what might be to come. By mid-March it was clear that the country would be locked down and self-isolation and shielding rules would be brought into force. For a business that depends on its employees to provide a service there was a real concern about maintaining staffing levels to provide the care our customers depend on whilst also ensuring that we looked after our care assistants’ health and wellbeing.
Happily, in reality, the numbers of staff who had to isolate for either seven or 14 days was manageable. Because of the salaried employment contracts we offer to all our care staff we operate with more spare capacity than any other home care provider helping us to easily cope with the 10% drop in staffing levels we experienced as employees took time off work and we were still able to deliver all of our customers’ care visits.
In April it became obvious that sourcing personal protective equipment (PPE) was going to be the single most important thing we were going to have to do. Initially there was panic due to the scarcity: however, it soon became clear that the real issue that faced us was buying PPE at affordable prices as a large number of unscrupulous suppliers jumped at the chance to make huge profits by selling gloves, aprons and facemasks often at prices up to 20 times what would be considered normal.
Our head office team at Bluebird Care in Kingsclere invested many hours in sourcing PPE to ensure that the company has always been able to deliver care with the necessary gloves, aprons and face masks as recommended by the government and Public Health England (PHE). The cost of doing so has been astronomical, however, we have worked hard to fund the costs from a combination of our own resources and government grants meaning that none of the financial burden has been passed on to our customers.
Sadly, many care homes have had continued problems during May with tragic reports of deaths and whilst this is not our area of expertise we wanted to take the opportunity to send our support and praise for the work that our fellow care professionals do in residential settings all over the country. Home and live-in care has different challenges as our customers live in their own homes with little or no exposure to people other than our own care assistants. So we play a major role in ensuring they stay safe and well.
We are so proud of our care team when we say that there have been no reported cases of COVID19 within our cohort of customers. This is down to the professionalism, dedication and commitment that our whole team shows every single day. At the same time it is important that there is no complacency as the job is far from done and everyone in the company is working hard to ensure that we continue to maintain these high standards of home and live-in care.
June 2020 and the future
There will be many more challenges to come over the next weeks and months; more decisions to be made and more hard work and tough times ahead. However, having been awarded an outstanding rating by the CQC for the well-led care standard just five months ago, we are well placed to meet these challenges on behalf of our customers.