Real Lives

In memory of a colleague lost to Covid  

Stuart Dunn

Stuart Dunn was a larger than life character who had a big impact on everyone he met. After many years of working for the NHS he moved to Solutions in Service and had been a big part of setting up the very first commissioned service for the new company. Since then, he had helped to ensure that his service and the rapidly expanding company both gained a positive reputation.

Stuart and his staff team had been very successful in helping people with complex mental health needs remain in their own tenancy. There was a waiting list, and the service was now highly regarded by local professionals. At the very beginning of the first lockdown period for Covid-19 in March 2020, Stuart was sent home to self-isolate due to developing a persistent cough. He passed away in hospital just thirteen days later. He was 56.

One of the reasons this service had been so successful was the close relationship between the manager and his team with every person using the service. The friendly but productive ethos instilled by Stuart was an integral part of the success to date, and it was tangible. As a result, his death would clearly have a significant impact on anybody connected with the service, and indeed the company.

Sue Thomas had an extremely close working relationship with Stuart and had been his “right hand”. They had also become close friends. In breaking the news of his death to everyone at the service it was felt it was important to break it to Sue first. Expecting her to be extremely upset, plans were made in advance to cover her overnight shift that night. After understandably breaking down on hearing the news, she gathered herself and refused point blank to leave her shift. When encouraged to think of herself for once she replied, “How can I not be here for them tonight of all nights, just when they are going to need me the most?” Sue completed that shift, as well as numerous extra hours that week in the immediate aftermath of Stuart’s passing. Sue and the team all stepped up to provide whatever additional input was needed for the people using the service during the difficult period that followed.

The whole staff team, collectively and voluntarily, accepted additional responsibilities to not just smooth the transitional running of the day to day service following the tragic loss of the manager, but also to provide the extra supportive input to the tenants following the death of someone who had been such a big presence in their lives. Several of the people using the service had known Stuart through his professional input in different settings over several years, with one expressing his grief as Stuart had been an influential part of his life over several decades.

Due to the difficulties of recruitment during the early lockdown period, and in allowing an appropriate period for grief following Stuart’s death, the team kept the service running with some additional support. A new manager has now been appointed, but the team there did an exceptional job in tragic and unwanted circumstances. They managed to keep the service going whilst continuing to enable the people living there to progress, despite the loss of such an influential part of their lives.

The service has now been renamed Stuart Dunn House. His name becoming a permanent fixture there is a fitting tribute to someone whose memory will continue to influence everyone involved with it.

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