Joy Cassidy is deserving of the title of Social Care Covid Hero* for her work behind the scenes during the coronavirus pandemic as much as for her customer facing responsibilities. Her colleagues describe her as an ‘unsung hero’.
As Front of House Manager at the Belong care village in Crewe, she manages a team of housekeepers, administrators and receptionists that ensures the smooth running of front of house operations. As well as being a first point of contact with the village for many people, this involves maintaining standards of cleanliness and tidiness and the upkeep of facilities. However, like many people in the care sector, Joy has risen to new challenges during the coronavirus pandemic.
Throughout a time of considerable anxiety, Joy has been an example of resilience and a source of reassurance for colleagues, residents and their families. A large part of this has been alleviating the concerns of relatives by enabling communication between residents and their loved ones and facilitating regular updates, including taking numerous daily phone calls. As the link between the care village and the wider community, she has played a pivotal role in communicating important information, including ever-changing government guidance and restrictions, to keep colleagues and customers safe.
In ordinary times, Joy makes time for meaningful interactions with residents every day, such as chatting with them at lunch time and supporting activities that they do together. Since the introduction of lockdown measures, she and her team have taken it upon themselves to support apartment tenants who live independently at the care village. This includes well-being calls twice a day, organising the delivery of meals from the Bistro and visiting those who have been unable to see loved ones and might be experiencing feelings of loneliness or isolation as a result.
Naturally, cleanliness and hygiene achieved new importance during the coronavirus pandemic, and she has worked with her team to oversee cleaning routines, establish protocols for visits to the village by contractors and organise testing regimes for both residents and colleagues. As soon as outdoor visits became possible, Joy put into place practices that meant that they could take place in as natural an environment as possible while minimising risk. Her initiative in taking a leading role in the implementation of lateral flow testing for visitors has meant that many residents have been able to see their loved ones safely indoors for the first time in months.
The coronavirus pandemic has also highlighted Joy’s leadership qualities, including her ability to inspire in others a sense of purpose. A great listener, she has also been a counsellor and shoulder to cry on for colleagues during challenging times – colleagues say that you will often see staff confiding in her or sharing concerns and she is always understanding and supportive. She has also taken on additional administrative work to make sure staff receive the support that they need if they are ill, required to self-isolate or furloughed. Faced with increased absences, Joy has undertaken essential tasks that would usually be carried out by other people, including ordering and locating stock for other departments.
Joy’s skills and dedication were crucial to the effectiveness of her team before the coronavirus pandemic. In the past year, her leadership has been a critical factor in coping with the additional pressures of keeping both employees and residents safe.
Originally from Kent, she lives in Crewe with her two children. When Joy is not being the face of Belong Crewe, she enjoys spending time with family, including going on walks and bike rides, as well as reading.
*(Joy has been nominated for the Ancillary Worker Award at the Great British Care Awards.)