COVID Experiences

The past few months have seen some of the strangest times we have ever lived and worked through. Despite the constant threat of COVID-19, our staff have been working hard to ensure the people we work for continue to receive the care and support that they need. Our frontline staff have continued to go above and beyond for the people we work for and the organisation.

We wanted to capture some of the stories of the people who have been working through the pandemic. We want to pass on our thanks to all our staff for continuing to work extremely hard through these challenging times.

Please click on a name to see that person's story.

Lesley's Story...

Tell me about your role before lockdown. What would you do on a daily basis?

I started working with SOL on the 9th of March, so I was taking part in training when, on the 17th of March, we were put into lockdown. Prior to starting my training, I was working in retail. I had worked in retail for 15 years, but I really fancied a change.

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Unfortunately, due to the lockdown being introduced, I didn’t actually work my first shift until the 20th of May. With the office closing, the training was postponed which had a knock-on effect for when I could start working with people. The training resumed via Zoom at the end of April, so I was able to complete my training.

How has it changed since lockdown?

Well I completed my training and in May I was offered the chance to work in a service that was relatively close to where I live. I don’t drive, and with the restrictions on travel and using public transport, it seemed ideal.

What has been your biggest challenge over this period?

Apart from not working for a long period of time, and then eventually being able to start working in a totally new career, I sadly lost my gran during this period. It’s been a big challenge to start a new job, in a sector that I’m unfamiliar with, whilst dealing with a big personal loss.

What are you most proud of over this period?

As I’ve never done this kind of work before, I’ve been proud that I’ve been able to take everything in my stride and deal with things that I’ve never encountered before. All this has been done with so much more going on in my life.

As for working with PPE, I was initially wary of it but it’s now just part of what I do. It’s part of life now. I go in at the start of my shift, put my PPE on, and get on with things. I’m wearing it for nearly 13 hours a day. The person I work for has underfloor heating in her home, so it can be difficult if the house is really warm.

Can you sum up what it's felt like to work during the pandemic?

It’s been a bit scary as I’ve never done this sort of work before, especially working through the current restrictions, but I’ve persevered and got on with it.

Carolann’s Experience...

Tell me about your role before lockdown. What would you do on a daily basis?

For the past couple of years, I’ve mainly been working with one person but occasionally offering cover for a few other teams that I’ve worked in prior to that. The person that I currently work for is a sociable person. She likes being out in company and would enjoy popping into a pub for a bit of chat. She also liked to go to the cinema and she actually has a lot of vouchers that she was planning on using but obviously can’t now.

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How has it changed since lockdown?

For a long time, we weren’t getting out as much. For the first couple of months, the weather was nice so we could sit out in the back garden, but we had very little contact with anyone. We still don’t have much contact with people, but things have gotten better since the restrictions were eased from a full lockdown. We can now take drives in the car and often go to the seaside. We’ve been visiting places like Ayr, Troon, and Burntisland. It has given us an opportunity to enjoy a walk along the pier and get some sea air. We have also been able to visit a supermarket where the person I work for is able to pick the things that she likes.

What has been your biggest challenge over this period?

Wearing a mask. As an ex-smoker I occasionally cough and have a ‘wease’, it’s never been too bad but I’ve found it a lot worse since wearing a mask. It also hurts my face as we need to wear it for long periods of time. I can understand that we need to wear it, especially for things like personal care or dispensing medication, but it is a big challenge wearing it all the time.

What are you most proud of over this period?

I’m proud that I’ve kept in good health. I’ve not missed any time from my work over this period. I’m also proud that we have recently been able to take the person I work for out a little bit more. After receiving the okay from a risk assessment, we can now venture out to a supermarket. The person I support has her own face shield and we’ve ‘blinged’ it up for her with some fancy glittery material for the top band. She absolutely loves it and she’s always pretty chuffed to wear it.

Can you sum up what it's felt like to work during the pandemic?

At work, apart from shift patterns changing slightly and the need to wear PPE, I personally don’t feel a lot has changed. I like my own company so some of the restrictions didn’t really bother me too much. I’m also not a ‘worrier’ so as long as we listen to the guidance that we are given about better hygiene and what we need to wear, I’m not overly worried about catching it.

Karen's Experience...

Tell me about your role before lockdown. What would you do on a daily basis?

I support a lady who has progressive MS. Due to her medical condition, a lot of my job was concentrating on the medical aspect of her care, such as ensuring the correct medication is dispensed at the correct time.

The woman I support was pretty active and she was definitely a morning person. She would love to go for her shopping, attend coffee mornings, go to dance classes, go to the garden centre for a coffee… she was pretty much out every single day… apart from a Sunday as that was our ‘day of rest’. It would also give us an opportunity to catch up on housework and catch up with all of the stuff we couldn’t do during the week.
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How has it changed since lockdown?

Unfortunately, her MS has worsened during the lockdown. She has been in the hospital a few times for a few procedures. Due to these procedures, we now have District Nurses visiting every morning, we also have a strict routine for dispensing medication and ensuring she is receiving the correct amount of fluid every day. Her life is greatly restricted now due to her health issues, but it’s even further restricted when you add in the lockdown restrictions. From being a person that was active she now only goes out once a week for shopping. We are currently trying to re-establish a new routine for her, where we can make the most of her mornings. The frustrating thing is just as we think we are getting into a new routine something else happens, another announcement is made that puts everything up in the air! We listen to all of the daily announcements because we know how serious the current situation is. From a personal point of view, it’s really difficult wearing the masks all the time but we know we need to do it. The only thing is when I need to phone a manager they can’t make out what I’m saying! There’s a murmur from our end then the manager needs to ask us to repeat what we are saying.

What has been your biggest challenge over this period?

Wearing the masks all of the time. We know we need to wear them, but my face is breaking out because of them.

What are you most proud of over this period?

We’ve been able to keep the person we support safe. She has had a couple of hospital visits over this time, we’ve done everything we have meant to do with following guidance, etc, and the person is still safe. We’ve also tried to keep her spirits up.

Can you sum up what it's felt like to work during the pandemic?

It’s been a challenge, and we have encountered problems along the way, but I’m hoping that we are coming out of the other end… I keep hoping that!
MEGHAN'S STORY


Tell me about your role before lockdown. What would you do on a daily basis?

Well, I was a Flexi worker before lockdown. I was working with approximately 10 teams, covering annual leave for team members and sickness cover. Every shift was different as I was sent where I was needed. I covered Airdrie, Bellshill, Motherwell, Wishaw… anywhere really!

How has it changed since lockdown?

My role has changed greatly because since March I was working with one person 5 days a week. It was a big change to go from working with a few people, who all have their own routines, to working with one person pretty much full time. The person I work for obviously has her own routine, but that had to change during the lockdown as well, and when you also consider that we had limited activities available to us over this period as well. It took both of us time to adjust.

What has been your biggest challenge over this period?

I think for both myself and the person I work for, the biggest challenge was getting used to only seeing one other person day in day out. I came from working as a Flexi Support Worker, working across so many teams, and the person I work for had her team of Support Workers who would alternate their days.

What are you most proud of over this period?

Working with the person I work for to make her own decisions that make a positive impact on her life. During the lockdown, we really focused on healthy eating. I’m also proud that she has adapted so quickly to the new circumstances we find ourselves in.

Can you sum up what it's felt like to work during the pandemic?

It’s been difficult but also rewarding as I’ve been able to continue working with someone during these uncertain times.
EDDIE’S EXPERIENCE


Tell me about your role before lockdown. What would you do on a daily basis?

Before lockdown happened, I was taking part in the Senior Support Worker training and getting out to meet the teams and the services that I’m going to be working with. It was giving me a chance to meet the people I will be working with and find out their routines and their likes and dislikes. I’m going to be working with 5 or 6 services on a regular basis. The training was pretty far on before lockdown as well.

How has it changed since lockdown?

I feel everything has stalled. I’m still supporting a number of people, but I feel the Senior Support Worker training has stalled. Part of the training has recently resumed by using Zoom, and we have started the SVQ part of the training, but before lockdown, we were going to people’s homes and running over things like safety checks and spending more time with the person, but we’ve had to stop all that. I find wearing PPE hard. I understand why we need to wear it, but for example, I was supporting someone this morning who has underfloor heating in their home. It was already really warm but then I need to wear a mask as well. It’s hard.

What has been your biggest challenge over this period?

Keeping people entertained and engaged. It’s trying to fill peoples time because there are a lot of long days. People who have routines, such as going to clubs, now can’t attend them and they are feeling frustrated. These are massive changes to some people’s lives but I’m trying to explain to them why these things aren’t happening. Part of the issue is that you can’t give people a time frame for when things will open back up. You don’t want to make promises then it doesn’t happen.

What are you most proud of over this period?

We’ve been able to keep the people we support safe. By the Support Workers following what were asked to do, we’ve been able to keep people safe

Can you sum up what it's felt like to work during the pandemic?

It’s kept me sane. I couldn’t have been furloughed or asked to work at home. By being out working I’ve been able to keep some form of normality.
JANICE'S STORY


Tell me about your role before lockdown. What would you do on a daily basis?

The person I work for usually has a very busy social life. Prior to lockdown, we were out every day, in the community, meeting up with his friends. He also enjoyed going out for lunch or going shopping… we were rarely in! He always had something on. Monday Club, craft class on a Tuesday, Thursday he had a club at his church, Friday he went to drama. He also regularly attended church on a Sunday. A large part of my role has been about supporting this person in the community to achieve the things he wants to do. He’s a busy man!

How has it changed since lockdown?

Well, everything is closed now and there is nothing on. There are no activities on at all and every day feels the same. Due to his age, and the ongoing pandemic, he was literally at home for 4 months. For a man that is usually active, out and about doing things, he’s now been stuck at home for months. He hasn’t seen many people and he can’t have people visiting him. His church is a big part of his life and he’s really missed it. He’s got a lot of friends through his church and he’s missing them all. They do call to have a chat but it’s not the same as actually seeing them in person. He also does video calls with his friends, and he still keeps in contact with people, but it’s not the same for him. It’s been a huge change. We are hoping that now we’ve had his risk assessment back he will be able to attend a church service soon. It’s only been recently that he’s been allowed to go out in the car and do things like going shopping. He always wears a mask when he’s out and always sanitises his hands. Even though the person I work for understands all of the information surrounding the pandemic, he’s still really missing socialising with people and going to his clubs. From my point of view, the PPE has been a bit of a nightmare. I’ve been sweating because of the masks and I actually found out that I’m allergic to a product that is used to make the aprons. Unfortunately, it’s brought me out in a rash. I’ve been trying my best to just get on with it because we all need to do it.

What has been your biggest challenge over this period?

Keeping people occupied because there’s not much to do. We try to break the long days up by doing some drawing but it only lasts so long. You get to a point where the person I work for starts watching TV again. It’s been a massive upheaval to his routine.

What are you most proud of over this period?

I’m most proud of the person I work for and how he’s coped through this period. He’s found it difficult being at home all the time, but he’s really surprised me how well he’s managed to cope. I know he loves going out and hates being in, but he understands that because of the ‘virus’ we all can’t go out for a while.

Can you sum up what it's felt like to work during the pandemic?

The whole pandemic has been tough. It’s something I hope I never experience again. Working has helped but the other restrictions, that we’ve all had to face, have been horrendous. I think we have all felt it when we can’t visit family, we can’t visit friends, we can’t do the things we usually do.
SAMANTHA'S STORY


Tell me about your role before lockdown. What would you do on a daily basis?

The person I work for was hardly ever at home prior to lockdown. She had a club nearly every day and would often leave first thing in the morning and not get back home until about 5pm. She had the drama club, exercise classes, Friends 4 U. The only day she was free would be a Saturday and even then, she would usually go to the bingo. She likes to be on the go all the time.

How has it changed since lockdown?

It’s dramatically changed. Going out to the extent that we were can’t happen anymore. As a Support Worker, I need to think about ways that we can occupy the person's days. At the moment, we can go out in the car and take a drive to a nearby pond to feed the ducks. There is usually nobody there, so we can get to spend time out in the fresh air. Apart from that, we’ve been doing a lot of baking and cooking. There are no clubs on, and even if they were, the person I work for can’t even go into a shop yet. I take her out in my car to different parks so she can at least see different scenery and she’s not always at home. From my point of view, PPE doesn’t really bother me. At the start it did, it was hard to wear it, but now it’s just part of my daily routine.

What has been your biggest challenge over this period?

Keeping the person I support occupied, but we try to work it as a team that we find her new things to do. We decorated her house during the lockdown and on a daily basis, we are always trying to find new activities. We’ve recently been doing a lot of arts and crafts as the person I work for loves to make things by hand and being creative.

What are you most proud of over this period?

The person I work for… and how she has coped whilst she has been stuck at home. I’m amazed at how well the person has adapted. Not only has she managed to adapt to the lockdown restrictions, but she has also lost some weight due to healthy eating. She has done fabulously well.

Can you sum up what it's felt like to work during the pandemic?

It’s not really bothered me personally, but it has been rewarding to see how well the person I work for has coped through this period.