Real Lives

Reception to the Rescue!

According to Google, there’s a job that requires the following skills and characteristics:

Being open to new people and ideas

Being friendly and polite

Being sociable

Being organised

Being judicious and careful

Able to control emotions

Able to empathise with others

Ability to work under Pressure

Ability to remain calm

I know what you’re thinking: that list could apply to lots of jobs and you could doubtless name many, I’m sure, but I’m going to bet Receptionist isn’t one of them. And why not? Possibly because it’s a very undersung role in most sectors, including Social Care…till now.

Sharon Bromage, receptionist at Pirton Grange in Worcestershire (part of Holmleigh Care), recently won the 2021 Regional Social Care Covid Hero Award. And though up against stiff competition, as ever, the Judges were super impressed with how she provided much needed administrative support to Holmleigh Care alongside undertaking care responsibilities during the pandemic.

Previously Head Housekeeper at Pirton Grange, Sharon morphed over to reception at the start of Covid-19 and went all out to make the home pandemic ready:

“First of all we had to bring in testing, PPE and absorb all the new legislation. So I made sure posters were put up for handwashing and social distancing and then after teaching ourselves how to self test, we taught the staff how to test themselves. And then in turn taught the residents’ families. And I have been in charge of organising all the visits to the home whether window, or face to face visits – indoor/outdoor or telephone.”

Sharon undersells herself, of course, because when the home had an outbreak, she also worked on the floor with the care assistants, doing 12 hour stretches till eight at night because of staff shortages.

So often back office staff are overlooked, so how does she feel about being acknowledged in this way?

“I was surprised a carer didn’t win this category because I feel I just did what was necessary or expected. It was really nice to be recognised as having done something worthwhile. I really like my job because I’m naturally organised and good in a crisis because I can be detached from personal feelings and keep a cool head. I just took over to take the pressure off other people and all the new systems just clicked with me!”

It’s a familiar refrain, isn’t it? “I was just doing what was necessary”…this stepping beyond the self to put others first as though it’s the most natural inclination when we have daily proof this is not often the case out in the wider world. People like Sharon are exceptions and therefore exceptional…

So, you won’t be surprised to read that Sharon’s fears around Covid-19 were not about herself:

“I was more scared about bringing it into the home because the residents are so vulnerable and then when we did have an outbreak in the home I was scared of taking it home  because of my children and family. But you just get on with it. Thankfully we didn’t lose any of our residents. And we were a great team looking out for one another.”

And have the last two years made Sharon rethink her professional or personal goals and what’s important for her life?

“It’s made me realise I like the career I’m in and where I work. It’s made me feel more driven that I can achieve what I want because when required I can step up and be counted on. I like to organise people! I’d like to stay with the company and progress up the admin route as I’m currently doing my Level 3. The whole experience has made me more resilient and willing to try new things.”

Thanks to Sharon Bromage, let’s hope a Receptionist is no longer an unsung hero!

Debra Mehta

Edel Harris





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