Standing proud in the face of our greatest challenge

As we all know too well, the Coronavirus pandemic has presented great emotional, mental and economic challenges to our society. Care professionals have remained at the forefront of these challenges whilst caring for society’s most vulnerable members. As cases grew, social distancing measures and loss of life amongst care professionals and those in care led to more restrictions, making the ability to provide quality care increasingly more difficult.

Despite the challenges, adjusting to the constraints and obstacles of the pandemic forced care professionals to innovate in order to deliver the care vulnerable people needed. The success of these innovations relied on professionals from across different disciplines in the care industry coming together and applying their respective expertise towards addressing care issues that arose throughout the pandemic.

The CareTech Charitable Foundation was fortunate enough to be involved in supporting the advocacy and development of many of these innovations through our partnerships. These innovations addressed various challenges such as isolation, providing PPE to carers and connecting those in care homes with their loved ones and carers through technology.
These innovations provided solutions to issues that we hope will advance the capabilities of the care industry going forward, pandemic or not, by providing new strategies and techniques that will allow care professionals to deliver quality care, no matter the circumstance.

Some of our partnerships included the below initiatives, each focusing on a unique challenge presented to the care industry during the pandemic:
National Care Force was established to provide an online tool, endorsed by Care England and the National Care Forum that matches volunteers with social care providers. The free online platform is a not-for-profit organisation, powered by healthcare staffing technology firm Florence. By the end of this reporting period, National Care Force has successfully enlisted over 1,500 care providers and over 2,300 volunteers to their platform.

Kit4Carers was set up by an impressive group of healthcare and other professionals to ensure that carers in the UK and overseas have access to essential PPE to protect them and those for whom they care from COVID19. By the end of this reporting period, Kit4Carers has provided PPE to four UK-based hospices, enabling over 3,100 stakeholders to access PPE, and provided employment to 25 unemployed carers and four people with disabilities in India.

Connect the Love was a new charitable initiative established to support people who are isolated in care homes, hospitals and vulnerable situations by providing devices to keep them digitally connected to friends, families and loved ones. Connect the Love’s mission is to alleviate loneliness, improve mental health and prevent isolation during the pandemic and beyond. By the end of this reporting period, Connect the Love had donated 142 tablets to care homes.

Potters Bar Radio Station CareTech’s local community has also been hard hit by the lockdown and the Foundation has been able to provide help to people living near our offices in Potters Bar. Thanks to funds from the Foundation a community radio station was set up for people struggling in the local area. The aim of the radio station is to help combat isolation and offer a source of comfort and hope to the many people locally who are finding the experience of the lockdown lonely and difficult. By the end of this reporting period, the radio station had secured £1,000 of additional funding from a local County Councillor, increasing its programming to seven shows.

In addition to supporting these programmes, one of our primary goals as leaders of the sector was to celebrate the stories of the bravery and perseverance of care workers, especially during the pandemic. One of the driving forces behind this was the Championing Social Care initiative, a cross-sector campaign focused on delivering positive stories and initiatives about the sector.

A significant part of this campaign was #SparkleforSocialCare, a social media campaign specifically focused on building awareness of the incredible efforts of care workers during this time of crisis. A search on social media for the hashtag #Sparkleforsocialcare will show an array of these heart-warming actions from care professionals across the country.
Let’s be clear: coping with COVID-19 has been grim. Too many people have died, too many families have been separated, too many people have faced challenges which will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Care workers have been thrust into the heart of this crisis, but the care sector has responded brilliantly, despite pretty poor Government support. As a judge for the Great British Care Awards’ COVID Hero Award, I was blown away by the stunning efforts, commitment and ingenuity of care staff to face up to these challenges. In the same way, the Foundation has been able to back some brilliant innovations from fantastic entrepreneurs across the sector.

Amidst all of the awful impacts of the pandemic, the positive legacy must be a greater self-confidence across the care sector of the talents, innovation and skills of its people and the vital contribution that the sector plays in society.

First published in Care Talk Magazine