Service Manager Sarah Davies has been working within the care industry for over 24 years. For the last four years, she has worked at Hightown Housing Association, which manages 85 care and supported housing services. Sarah oversees two services in Berkshire (Ariadni and Cambridge Road) supporting nine people with profound learning disabilities.
In March 2020 when the first wave of the pandemic began, Sarah and her team were faced with an unusual and significant challenge. Just three days after the first national lockdown was announced, one of her service users at Ariadni was diagnosed as having a suspected case of coronavirus. This prompted the start of a 14-day lockdown and the implementation of the ‘live in model’. This initiative (live in model) is where staff would reside within the service for 14 days to safeguard service users, staff, their families and the wider community. Provisions were made for staff to gather their belongings and extra bedding facilities were sourced to immediately implement the live in model.
Sarah and her team adapted and responded quickly to an unprecedented situation to ensure they were able to continue providing exceptional care to all service users. Whilst dealing with ever changing daily challenges and ensuring that staff and their wellbeing were managed successfully, Sarah also found time to give praise to her wonderful and dedicated team. Sarah stated, “As carers, our main priority is to keep our service users safe, so having a team who were willing to move into the service to protect our service users, staff, their families and the wider community was an easy and committed decision.”
The new model provided more consistency in support, routine and response to service users, but essentially ensured their health and wellbeing were maintained in the safest way possible.
Prior to the pandemic, staff engaged service users in several activities, including weekly music sessions with local musicians and day trips. As a result of the pandemic, staff had to be innovative in how entertainment was provided. Sarah encouraged her team to think creatively to ensure the service users continued to feel safe, happy and socially engaged. They created a range of daily activities in the home and garden, including cooking, movie nights and painting.
This encouragement was embraced by the team and the idea of a ‘wishing tree’ was born. This initiative will give service users the opportunity to add different activities they would like to do once restrictions are lifted onto a ‘tree’ displayed on the wall.
The team’s hard work and determination to provide support with such care, compassion, and vigour, is a testament to their collective commitment to supporting the service users. They went to extraordinary efforts to avoid disrupting the service users’ daily lives. This speaks volumes of their work ethic.
Filled with confidence and joy from the work everyone achieved as a team, Sarah made the following beaming comments.
“I am very proud of my team for their steely and unwavering commitment to our service users. I feel very lucky to have such a good team and each member of staff should feel an immense pride in the exceptional services they are providing. The ‘live in model’ has proven to be a success because of the dedication and commitment from everyone.”