Tean nurse speaks of ‘brilliant’ social care industry during pandemic

A nurse from Tean hopes social care workers will get more recognition as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Lucy Salt, a nurse at Barrowhill Hall
Lucy Salt at work at Barrowhill Hall

Lucy Salt, 28, started work at Barrowhill Hall – her first job in the care sector – just three months ahead of the national outbreak.

“Before this happened, I think care homes were forgotten,” said Lucy. “Now, I think there’s more awareness.  I hope people will have more respect for us and the job we do.’’

Day-to-day care of more than 60 residents at Barrowhill Hall changed in advance of the pending pandemic.

Strict infection control measures were put in place.  Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) and checking their own and residents’ temperatures became mandatory for all staff.

“As a nurse I am used to minimising infection but the pandemic changed things completely,” said Lucy.

Because our residents are living with dementia they don’t all understand why things have changed, why we’re wearing masks or why they can’t see their family.”

Keeping residents and staff safe continues to be the priority for Barrowhill Hall.

The home closed its doors to all but essential visitors two weeks ahead of government recommendations.  It introduced hand sanitising at the door as well as a disinfectant mat for staff to walk through.

Resident safety is priority

Through close liaison with Public Health England, managers at the home act on the very latest guidance.   Staff check their temperatures before starting care and residents’ health is closely monitored.

Lucy, a former respiratory nurse for the NHS, believes the events of the last three months have brought her and her colleagues closer together.

“Everyone’s worked as a team.  They’ve all been really supportive of me.  I have a two year old little girl at home and I was worried about keeping her safe, but everything has been done to protect us and the residents.’’

The community has given Barrowhill Hall a huge amount of support.  Encouraging messages have been posted on social media and donations including masks, hand creams, and treats for residents and staff, have been sent in.

Lucy hopes their recognition of care workers will continue.

Every day is different

“I may not work in a hospital setting but I am still a Registered Nurse, and social care is a brilliant place to work,” said Lucy.

“I’m thankful to the NHS for the experience it gave me but here I can build relationships with the residents. I’ve got time to talk to them and to hear their stories.  And every day is different.  I love it.”

“These are unprecedented times but Lucy has coped amazingly well,” said home manager, Matthew Whitfield.

“As well as being caring, you have to be adaptable in a care setting.  I’m proud of the way Lucy, and her colleagues, have supported one another and have responded to the demands placed on them’’



A huge “THANK YOU!” to the community for its support

Staff have been overwhelmed by the support the local community has shown for them and its residents during the coronavirus outbreak.

Barrowhill Hall has received donations of personal protective equipment including masks and visors.  Plus, hand-made laundry bags, hand creams, sanitisers, and treats for residents and staff.

Paintings and messages from children at Dove First School
Paintings and messages from children at Dove First School

Support from young friends

Children from Dove First School on Ashbourne Road sent in pictures and messages.

Residents received paintings and letters from youngsters from Abbotsholme School who would normally visit the home every week.

“We want to say a huge thank you to everyone,” said the home’s manager, Matthew Whitfield.  “’We’ve been deeply touched by the goodwill in our community.

Carers at Barrowhill Hall show off masks made by students at Denstone College
Carers at Barrowhill Hall show off visors made by students at Denstone College

Denstone College made visors in their Design and Technology department that we were very grateful to receive.

“Food sent to staff has fuelled their hard work and they have had lots of messages of support.

“It is a testing time for our team and to know there are people thinking about them means a huge amount.”

Biscuit and pizza treats

Uttoxeter-based Fox’s donated biscuits and Domino’s in the town sent in pizzas.

Two staff at Barrowhill Hall enjoying pizzas donated by a local takeaway
11 pizzas from Dominos in Uttoxeter went down well with staff

Local seamstress, Joan Sandbrooke, made laundry bags, fabric face masks and hairbands for staff to help protect their ears from the masks’ elastic.

“I thought it would be a good gesture to help the community at such a difficult time,” she said.

Families have shown their support

The home has received countless messages of appreciation from residents’ families.  They’ve been kept in touch with loved ones via video calls and phone-calls.

A private Facebook group has been set up where they can exchange photos and messages.

“Their patience and understanding has not gone unnoticed,” commented Matthew.  “We’ve always been close to our community here, but we feel it even more so now.”

Matthew and his colleagues have come in for praise from the home’s director, Dion Meechan.

“I can’t say enough what a fantastic team we have here,” he said.  “They have all been putting the extra hours in where needed and always with a smile.

“The residents are their priority.  Although the staff have tough days, they always step up to the mark and do their very best.  I’m immensely proud of them.”