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Older women at Bramley Elderly Action Leeds ;

Care spotlight: Kindness on the frontlines

Bettina Zenz, a research lead in the Healthier Working Lives programme, has been discovering great ideas and insights from spending time with care workers in residential social care homes. Here she shares a story that spotlights the positive role that care workers play in the lives of care home residents.

As part of my role as research officer on the Healthier Working Lives research programme, I have been fortunate to interview staff in residential social care homes aged 50+ over the summer.

As we are heading into a very unsettled winter period which will be a worrying time for the adult social care sector, this seems a good opportunity to share another positive insight from life on the frontline.

I heard about significant hardships and challenges affecting carers but was also struck by the compassion staff have for those they care for and the many positives experiences that are part of their role which I believe deserve a moment in the spotlight.– Bettina Zenz, research lead in the Healthier Working Lives programme

At one independent care home in East Scotland, I had a wonderful interview with a few members of the admin team. One staff member called Bethany, told me that she had worked for this particular care home for over 10 years and couldn’t think of a better place to work. We discussed the hardships of working during the lockdown which hit care homes incredibly hard at times during 2020/21.

Bethany mentioned how, due to good teamwork and strong morale, ‘everyone in the team was helping out with everything’. For her personally, this meant stepping away from her desk and paperwork-based day job and instead helping out at meal times, particularly feeding residents in their rooms who could no longer enjoy their meals in the common room due to COVID-19.

This also meant transitioning between the two different sites of the care home, which are located on the same grounds but on different parts of the hill.

Bethany found herself walking up and down the hill multiple times a day and would often pass one of the home’s longest residents, Paul*, on her way. She explained that despite quite advanced age, Paul enjoys sitting on a particular bench every day and watching the cows in the nearby field.

They often have ‘little chats’ when they pass each other, but one day, Paul suddenly got up and asked Bethany to have a little dance in the road. Without a moment of hesitancy, Bethany took him up on this offer. “He is such a lovely resident, how could I say no”, she laughs when telling the story.

It always amazes me how, despite the stresses and hardships of pandemic life, care home staff across the board managed to still go the extra mile and put the happiness of their residents first.”

*The names of those in this story have been changed.

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In this story

Bettina Zenz

Bettina Zenz

Senior Research and Policy Officer in the Healthier Working Lives Workforce team

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