Some people have a knack for hitting the nail on the head and Katy Grindley, House Lead at Worthington Lake Care Home, (part of Millennium Care) and Great British Care Award nominee is one such person:
“Covid-19 has seen a lot more good news stories about care homes which is great because we all know there are far more good than not so good. It has given us more recognition which we deserve because it’s not just a job we do, it’s a vocation and a passion and it’s very skilled, especially in dementia care. We need to continue celebrating this.”
And we ARE doing just that because these awards have been created to celebrate just such a person…
Katy was promoted to House Lead in October 2019 and barely did she have time to find her feet before the pandemic swept in. Both the manager and company director had to go into isolation and so it was Katy who took control in those early months, forging a way forward with her team.
Many times Katy worked 100 hour weeks not least because she also took on and managed their contract to assist hospitals and the local authority move patients quickly and safely from hospital beds. And of course, this brought its own set of issues:
“It was challenging because people quite often came to us from home or hospital in a sorry state, very dishevelled, no clothing, no toiletries. So, I organised comfort packs from the borough containing toiletries and notepads and little things. We got emergency supplies of pyjamas so we had something clean for them when they arrived. And we used old stocks of emergency clothing until families were able to drop things at the door.”
And this on top of already managing the new and changing day to day safety and stress of residents and staff alike. In fact, aware of Katy’s incredible hours and commitment, staff were regularly trying to make her eat, and her parents left food on her doorstep for months to make sure she was okay.
“I would get home at whatever time, eat, go straight to bed and start all over again the next day because that’s what was needed.”
Katy makes it sound ordinary and that’s what heroes do. The rest of us know it’s not ordinary at all: it’s outstanding.
As things settled down a little, Katy helped with staff morale by cooking meals for them: her own version of a McDonald’s sausage and egg Mcmuffin was a great hit, as were the bottles of prosecco and chocolates she regularly brought in. Appreciating her team has been hugely important as at the very least, wearing a mask all day is a challenge because it can be hard to breathe and throats get dry when a care home is so warm. And it can be a barrier to communication:
“Residents want that facial expression and we have a few who lip read and can get very distressed when they can’t read you. You don’t realise how facial expressions and gestures can communicate more than speaking. A big smile makes someone’s day. And they can’t see that. We smile with our eyes much more now.”
Katy admits it has been very tough and draining but from it she has taken several positives. Firstly, that she is stronger and more resilient than she imagined, that mutual support is essential and a much greater appreciation for what we all tend to take for granted in life.
“We have all appreciated each other much more and that will continue. Meaningful gestures are so important. This nomination is very humbling because at the end of the day we’re all just trying to do a good job.”
These awards are just that: meaningful gestures in a time of great need.