Aspinden Rises to the Challenge

Today marks a month since I’ve been hurled out of the duty of motherhood and back to manager mode. I’ve left the safe cocoon of maternity leave, my dressing gown and the Teletubbies and eagerly returned to the unpredictable, chaotic, COVID-19 world of ‘out there’. My first day back at now Aspinden Care Home, I walked into the smiling familiar faces of our wonderful community and my heart leapt. I was pleased to see that so many of our residents remembered me and that there were new faces around.

Aspinden has been through such a transformation in the last two years that I had no doubt it would face COVID head on and fearless. I would sit up during the night feed thinking about the endless amounts of PPE they would be going through, how the communal mealtimes and activities would have changed and most importantly, how my colleagues were getting on. Although I never doubted them for a second, I was truly blown away by how much they had given to the service during the pandemic.

Aspinden has remained COVID free so far (fingers and toes crossed), due to the incredible efforts of the staff and Services Users working in harmony to protect each other. We often talk about Aspinden as our own little island within SIG, and the challenge we have faced throughout COVID has been truly unique. Our community here are mostly in their golden years, with underlying health issues and vulnerabilities, and as I watched the heart wrenching news reports from COVID ridden care homes during the first wave, the faces of my colleagues and the residents flashed across my mind.
Sitting down for a cuppa with my colleagues, I truly realised the sacrifices people had made. Some staff had lived together for a short while to create bubbles to protect their families or moved into the spare room so their vulnerable partners would be shielded. Others had been car sharing or going out of their way to give colleagues lifts home after a gruelling shift, just so they could avoid public transport. The mental challenge of getting through this time leaves me lost for words, but I can only tell them how proud I am of them. Staff have continued to stand by our residents, with many attending high risk environments like GPs or hospitals, to ensure that they get their treatments.

Our residents have had a tough time too, not being able to see their families or support systems and trying to understand a pandemic and government guidelines that seems to change and shift on an almost weekly basis. PPE has now become a part of their everyday lives and they have had to adjust to seeing their support workers dressed in PPE and keeping a social distance. I had a lovely chat with a resident on my first week back, who experiences anxiety, and I asked her how she felt about seeing everyone in masks. She told me, “I’m not worried, I can see them smiling with their eyes.” Honestly, I welled up a little. I couldn’t even blame it on baby hormones. It was one of those moments where I was reminded of the human and personal touch that underlines everything we do here at Aspinden, and how much I missed it.

We love our service and we are fierce protectors of it. Aspinden is challenging, unpredictable, and there’s no hiding here or working from home. We are front line all day and every day. Teamwork and supporting each other has kept the team and residents safe. We have learnt going through this pandemic, that there is a lot of trust in our family and we shall never be the same. I’m very happy to be back and look forward to the future when COVID and face masks are long behind us.

Rochelle Mcdonald, Deputy Manager