Two years ago, senior carer Claire Boulton described what a week in the life of a Julia's House carer was like. Since then, things have changed alot, we caught up with her to find out what the 'new normal' looks like...
It’s Monday. Just logging on after the weekend and opening up emails to check through any updates I need to be aware of this week. No week is the same at the moment; in fact no day is the same! There are always changes happening right now because of COVID, so I’ve got used to things altering at the last minute. Then it’s a quick pop to the hospice to collect some more PPE. We now have to wear PPE at all times, so we are going through it pretty quickly.
One of my tasks is to help ensure the carers and nurses have plenty of play and activity resources for their sits. While I’m at the hospice, I take the opportunity to make up some resource packs so we can continue to have lots of fun with the families. All done. It’s now 11:00 and I’m off to my first sit of the week.
Before each sit we have to complete some screening questions to make sure everyone in the family we’re about to sit for is free of symptoms. This is to ensure their safety as well as mine. At the door, I ‘Donn’ up. This is what we call placing all the PPE on. We wear the PPE at all times during the sits – even jumping on a trampoline with a child! It can get a bit hot!!
The sits continue as normal for the families we see – well those that that continue to want support within their homes. Some of our families still feel quite anxious about seeing anyone, so they prefer us to support them in other ways, such as video calls. If we’re in homes, we still play, we still help feed and shower the children, and some still want their own daily exercise, so we may go out for a socially distant walk.
We do however work remotely a lot more. Those families that have decided to self-isolate or shield may not be accessing our service physically, but that doesn’t mean we have forgotten about them. Each family receives regular contact with their named nurse, and I’m working within a team to find new and exciting ways to engage them too.
On Tuesday I have my first virtual meeting of the week. These are now becoming common and we often catch up with people via video calls instead of going to a meeting in person. The upside - I can sit on them in my PJs with a cuppa in my hand!
On Wednesday I have a new kind of sit. Something that is new and exciting! I have a video story time with a child we are not able to physically support. We simply set up a video call and I sit/jump/dance around my own living room for an hour with him, reading and maybe singing (depending on the book) to him. He appeared to love it as I get lots of giggles out of him.
The week continues in a similar manner. It flies by. Another thing that has changed is the amount of sits you can do in a day. Due to infection control procedures, we now need to come home and shower between sits instead of heading straight form one to another. We change all our clothes and they go straight in the wash. We have at least two hours in-between sits to complete this task – travel home, change clothes, have a break, and then possibly back out for a late afternoon sit. It’s quite a tight turnaround.
I sometimes think how different my typical day was before coronavirus. I used to love the sessions at the hospice – always filled with laughing and smiling children. Being able to go out and about so much more with the children on community sits – a walk to the park so they could stretch their legs or going with them to a swimming lesson. We took those kinds of trips for granted but not any more.
Even getting together with colleagues for training and a catch up has all changed– we’ve all got used to Zoom but it’s not quite the same.
But even in a very different kind of week, there are still loads of great moments and memories. And the thought of what a difference I’m making right now, when our families are hardly seeing anyone. I just want to be there for them.