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’’



“My nursing staff saved my life!”

Our manager, Martin, is happily now back at work after his nursing team saved him from a potentially fatal heart attack.

Too much cake?

Martin left work on the 31st of January in considerable discomfort that he put down to cake he’d enjoyed with residents in Churnet Lodge. Despite pain in his chest that woke him up during the night, he came to work the next morning.

“He didn’t feel right and he asked me to get him some lemonade,” said his deputy manager, Rhiannon McGirr, who has more than 20 years’ nursing experience.  “He thought the bubbles might help him bring up wind.”

“But as soon as I saw him I knew he needed an ambulance.”

Life saving advice

Martin eventually agreed for paramedics to be called. They took him to the Royal Stoke University Hospital where he was immediately prepped for surgery to fit stents into his arteries.

“I know I have an amazing team but I think they really did save my life,” said Martin. “The ironic thing about this is that I used to work as a cardiac nurse!

“I’d convinced myself it was just trapped wind or indigestion.  But I think the fact that I asked for Rhiannon shows that I knew what was happening and I needed her help and expertise.”

Barrowhill Hall was a recent finalist in the ‘Best Nursing Care’ category of the national Care Home Awards.

Changing his lifestyle

Since his heart attack, Martin has been going for nightly walks around Bath Pool.  He has cut red meat from his diet and hasn’t touched a single one of his much-loved cigarettes. He’s lost two stone in weight and wants to lose two more.

“I know how to look after my residents but I haven’t been looking after myself,” he said. “My blood pressure was too high and so was my cholesterol.”

The episode was immensely worrying for his wife Erica, and their two sons Jacob, 18, and Tobias, seven.

“Toby said to me, “Daddy, if I give you a piece of my heart will it make yours better?”” remembered Martin. “It moved me so much. The changes I’m making now are as much for my family as they are for me.”

Martin is now planning a fundraising challenge for the British Heart Foundation.

“The charity has been a great source of support,” he said, “especially in coming to terms with the fact it was me this time – you always think these things happen to someone else.

“I want everyone to be aware of their heart health – you might think you don’t have the time because you’re caring for other people but you won’t be able to do that at all if the worst happens.”