Social care staff pull out stops to deliver services in snow

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Social care staff from across the UK have been pulling out the stops to ensure vulnerable service users receive vital support during the current cold weather.

Two Buckinghamshire social care staff, service manager Tracey Allan and colleague Judy Butler, got stuck in a snowdrift, but walked for over an hour in bitterly cold temperatures to visit an older resident in a remote area.

Staff volunteered to visit vulnerable people across the southern county while meals on wheels teams delivered three days’ worth of frozen meals to keep people fed during some of the severest weather for 20 years.

At Seeleys House, Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire Council’s respite care unit for people with learning disabilities, staff and managers stayed overnight on Tuesday because the night team were unable to get in owing to the weather.

Kerry Stevens, head of service provision for adults and family wellbeing at Buckinghamshire, said: “Our staff think nothing of walking when driving isn’t possible to visit and provide much-needed care and support to vulnerable people.”

In the Borders region of Scotland, carers walked across two fields to provide home care support to clients. Night support workers have also been visiting clients on foot overnight.

In Dumfries and Galloway, south west Scotland, the charity WRVS has continued to deliver meals on wheels, sometimes having to use four-by-four vehicles to reach isolated homes.

Director of social work services at Dumfries and Galloway John Alexander said, “Both the council in-house service and our partner providers have been managing to cope. Essential services are continuing to be delivered and where we could not do so in a small number of cases, contingency arrangements have meant that are covered.”

Mike Padgham, chair of the UK Home Care Association, and director of North Yorkshire-based provider Twenty Four 7 Care Services, said home care staff had “used all methods” to reach vulnerable clients.

He said: “They’ve got lifts with people using four-by-fours and they’ve walked to clients as well. This shows local authorities and others how vital social care is and hopefully gives social care a little lift because in our view they are sort of forgotten.”

Users of Community Care‘s online forum, CareSpace, have also reported going the extra mile to keep services going.

Lizzer said: “I spent the day walking in my wellies – to get to work and then to visit some of my service users.”

“Queenb”, who is based in Greater Manchester, said: “I have personally heard of social workers walking in to work where they can’t drive, often journeys of several miles, to provide duty services or carry out necessary visits.”

Send your pictures of struggling in the snow to Community Care

Other stories include:

Hampshire Council closed all 22 of its day centres yesterday as did Bury Council in Greater Manchester. Both authorities said home care services were being maintained but staff faced delays.

Mountain rescue teams in Cumbria have been shuttling care staff to visit vulnerable residents in remote areas

London homelessness charity St Mungo’s has opened an emergency shelter for rough sleepers who are at risk during the cold snap

Tell us your stories of keeping vital services going during the snow on CareSpace.

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