“Our amazing, valued workers – making a difference” life at Oakdown House, Adult Care

14th April

Sue Fletcher, a member of staff at Oakdown House, contacted us because she wanted to let people know that during this difficult time, carers and support staff are working harder than ever to keep vunerable people safe at places like Oakdown House, a centre for adults with severe learning difficulties in Burwash Common. This is her account of life at the moment.

“We’ve been saying for a long time that Support Workers and all staff within the care industry should be really valued, and not classed as unskilled workers. Sadly, it has taken the Coronavirus to highlight this reality to the world, it is staff like those at Oakdown House and Carricks Brook that keep caring, keep going to work, making sure that the most vulnerable continue to receive the care they need. Our staff, by nature, have always gone over and above to care for our residents but during this difficult time they have taken it a step further.

Challenges posed by the pandemic

“From the start of this dreadful pandemic the support staff at Oakdown House and Carricks Brook have been willing to adapt the way they support the residents, in order to keep the residents lives as normal and interesting as possible. Before the ‘lock down’ staff found ways to continue to take the residents out but kept them safe at the same time. Adults with learning disabilities find change difficult at the best of times but the support workers, team leaders and care coordinators at both homes have worked their hardest to minimise the impact that Covid-19 has had on the lives of the residents. This ability to adapt and enhance people’s lives comes from a natural caring nature, but it also requires skill, training and experience.

“Fortunately, both our homes have beautiful, spacious gardens. The sunny days that we’ve had recently have enabled residents to be out in the garden, weeding, planting, walking, playing football and all sorts of other fun things. Our activity support workers already had a fantastic program of daily activities planned on site for the residents for the months ahead. However, with all residents having to remain at the homes the daily plans have been adapted and added to so that all residents have choices and enjoyment every day. This again requires dedication and skill.

The wonderful outdoor space at Oakdown House

“We must not forget the domestic staff, also categorized as unskilled, but again they have had to adapt to this ever-changing situation. The cleaning team, supported by all the other staff, have been working incredibly hard to make sure the homes have remained clean at all times, which is quite a task when all the residents are at home!  The laundry staff, who normally have a busy role anyway, have had to be even more careful about washing to required standards. Kitchen staff have had to adapt menus where food items have been in short supply, but the meals have remained tasty and varied. All of these roles require passion and skill.

“The staff at Oakdown House and Carricks Brook have adhered to the government guidelines at every step and managed to keep everyone safe and well. We also have to say a big thank you to all the resident’s families and friends, for also following the guidelines and staying away. Without family and friends trusting us to look after their loved ones it would be very difficult for us to carry on keeping the residents, and our valuable staff, safe.

Welcoming new staff

“There have been a lot of new enquiries for employment over the last month, which is fantastic. It is very warming to know that people who normally work elsewhere, are willing to try working in the care industry, either permanently or just for a few weeks. All of the new staff will get an in depth induction before they work on the floor. We welcome all these new staff and hope they enjoy their time in this skilled job, helping to support our amazing residents and making a difference! “