CARE homes in Warrington have faced unprecedented challenges during the coronavirus pandemic but their staff, working alongside the local authority and NHS, have shown exceptional dedication in protecting and supporting residents.

In Warrington there are 32 care homes providing residential or nursing care to more than 1,600 older people. There are also 81 assisted living settings, supporting 530 people with disabilities and additional needs.

During the pandemic all care home staff, including managers, carers, catering and domestic staff, have worked together showing true teamwork, care and courage.

Warrington Guardian:

Arlington House in Stockton Heath

There are many ways that staff have gone above and beyond to care for the most vulnerable residents.

Examples include staff moving into homes and living away from their families, covering additional shifts to provide an appropriate level of care and using social media and video calls to ensure residents can communicate with their families and healthcare professionals.

Their efforts have been supported by Warrington Borough Council and NHS Warrington Clinical Commissioning Group who have put in place a range of new and bespoke measures over the past three months to help improve the health and wellbeing of people living and working in care homes.

Some of the changes put in place include providing care homes with:

  • Weekly calls offering guidance and assistance to access appropriate PPE.
  • iPads to enable video consultations to take place with GP practices.
  • Medical equipment such as state of the art thermometers and pulse oximeters to support the clinical assessment of residents.
  • Face-to-face training such as infection, prevention and control, correct use of personal protective equipment and swabbing.
  • A secure NHS email account so they can safely share appropriate medical information to help residents.
  • A mental health and wellbeing resource pack to support staff, residents and their families facing a difficult, challenging and emotional time.

As well as mental health support the pack, which is regularly updated, also contains information on staff resilience, suicide prevention and bereavement support.

  • Information on offers and discounts that were available to care workers as a way of saying thank you for all their hard work.

Tara Winterburn and Jessica Bruton, joint registered managers at Rosevilla Residential Home in Burtonwood, said: “At the start of the pandemic we took action quickly by restricting visitors and providing regular updates to families.

“We set up ways for residents to keep in touch with their loved ones over FaceTime, Skype and Whats- App, with connections reaching as far as South Africa and Australia. We also used online resources to continue with social worker reviews and GP appointments.

Warrington Guardian:

“We made frequent videos to keep spirits up including capturing VE Day and Easter celebrations, garden parties, and even attempted the toilet roll challenge – all of which were brilliantly received by friends and families.”

“As a team we have been focused on keeping calm and carrying on and I am very proud of our achievements.

“We’ve managed our PPE stocks well and staff have been supported, with a wellbeing room set up to allow them to have some time out during their shift if they are feeling overwhelmed.

“Our residents have been well cared for at all times throughout the pandemic by our dedicated staff.

“We now have plans in place to begin the phased re-opening of the home to visitors, with strict measures which are being communicated to families.”

Ritu Masih, Registered Manager at Arlington House Care Home in Stockton Heath, said: “It's been business as usual at Arlington House throughout the pandemic, which is thanks to our fantastic staff and residents.

"Staff have been on hand to help our residents through the lockdown period and have done so with such resilience and dedication. We have worked hard, as a team, to ensure residents have been kept busy with lots of exercise classes, games, gardening and one to one activities, and we have kept in touch with families with Skype, telephone and a weekly email update.

“Before the pandemic, daily life in a busy home, with lots of visitors coming in and out can mean staff are constantly on the move to ensure everything gets done.

"This time during lockdown has provided us with a unique opportunity to spend lots of quality time with all of our residents which has been fantastic, and something that can be taken as a positive from this experience".

Michelle Creed, chief nurse for NHS Halton Clinical Commissioning Group and NHS Warrington Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We would like to say thank you to all staff working in the care sector for all that they are doing.

“The incredible commitment and compassion they have shown to their residents under difficult circumstances has been inspirational.

“In the NHS we have worked incredibly hard to support them along with our colleagues in the local authority and we will continue this support for as long as is needed.”