St Albans carers talk about working amid the virus
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For many people the coronavirus lockdown has meant quality family time and bonding with the neighbours but for others it has not been so easy.
Those whose job it is to care for vulnerable people in their homes are having to take daily risks with their health, and some are finding the threat of COVID-19 together with the current isolation around them really difficult to bear.
The Herts Ad spoke to three people in the district who shared their experiences with us: a nanny, a carer for older adults and a carer in a project for people with disabilities.
‘Julie’ works as a care worker for elderly people who live in a residential environment. They rely on support to maintain their day-to-day well-being and so not going into work because of social distancing is not an option for Julie
She loves her job and looks forward to going in, despite being paid minimum wage.
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The St Albans care home she works in has seen a lot of deaths since the start of the pandemic: “I feel quite scared as I am putting mine and my family members’ health at risk.
“I also worry terribly about the residents - we had 11 deaths in a really short space of time.
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“We have masks, aprons and gloves to wear to protect ourselves but it is not a happy environment at the moment.”
She said that for the staff who have come down with the virus, the finacial worry is huge. They are getting £12 a day in statutory sick pay unline furloughed workers in other sectors who receive at least 80 per cent of their usual salary.
“A pay rise would help me feel a bit more appreciated.”
St Albans nanny ‘Amber’ is now going into work to look after the four-year-old and seven-year-old children she has sole charge of during the day.
She said: “I must say when I first came back I was very worried about it and being at risk.
“It does upset me that I can come into work and mix with this household but I can’t go and see my family.
“I also find it a little contradicting as we are told not to mix households yet here we are as nannies doing just that. You also can’t really social distance from children or their parents in their house!”
‘Jake’ helps people who have learning disabilities maintain some independence.
He said: “Work has carried on as normal with regard to the hours. We are following the guidelines and it is a bit stressful with the constant information overload.
“We have all the correct PPE and so I find it is more of a concern what I do outside of my work environment to make sure I don’t bring any germs into work.
“I make sure I follow all the rules because obviously I don’t want to make any of the service users ill.
“I love my job and have been working throughout the lockdown.”
Herts county council guidance for carers states: “Care providers will continue to provide care. Care homes have been given a lot of advice and support on how to keep residents safe. Care workers have been given strict guidelines to follow based on government guidance. They will wash their hands when they arrive and leave. Staff are wearing the correct PPE to prevent the virus spreading.”
Herts Mind Network has also been offering support for carers during the lockdown.
A spokesperson said: “We are providing support to carers via phone calls, emails and online groups. We can provide emotional support, and information about our own and other organisations services that are still available within the county during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“It is still important to take time out from a caring role and to help reduce feelings of pressure and isolation.”
The network runs a weekly online social group for carers every Friday from 10am-11am. To join email firstname.lastname@example.org