Caring at Christmas – come rain, hail, wind or snow

Caring at Christmas – come rain, hail, wind or snow

“It’s the little things that make care at Christmas extra special”

Photo caption: Yasmin Anderson (far right) pictured at the NI Independent Care Awards in October. Also pictured are, from left, Pauline Shepherd ihcp Chief Executive, Lorraine Corr, Connected Health Director of Care and Emma McCloy, Area Manager.

Carers in Antrim were part of a community care team which braved the elements to deliver Christmas care to some of the most vulnerable in society last year.

This year, the team will be to the forefront of providing care over the Christmas period once again.

Connected Health Care Manager for Antrim and Ballymena, Yasmin Anderson, says the visits by her award-winning rapid response team over Christmas are an important part of the care provided. A 44-strong team cover the hills and boroughs in hail or snow to make sure everyone is tended to over the festive period and cold winter months.

Yasmin’s Connected Health rapid response team was recently recognised as a finalist in the NI Independent Care Awards and it’s easy to see why.

Yasmin explains: “Last year, as we cover a wide rural area, our calls involved lots of travelling on narrow roads that were not gritted. One of our team got stranded down a lane during a big storm. A tree had blown down and blocked the way out. A neighbour from down the lane came along with his tractor and helped cut the tree out of the way. Another was pulled out of the ditch in atrocious snow conditions, again by a helpful neighbour with a tractor.”

The area covered by Yasmin and her team includes towns and rural areas, all of which have a dedicated team of carers working to ensure they are looked after – not just on Christmas Day, but throughout the year.

“Quite a number of clients don’t have close relatives living nearby. A lot of people may not have family – while others have family living in England, Dublin, America and other places – so it’s just us they see at Christmas.

“The team are exceptional at what they do. They will go out of their way to spread a little cheer this year as they do each year. Staff will show up wearing festive outfits to make things a little jollier on the day.

“Others make sure their clients have hot Christmas Day dinners to eat so they don’t miss out on the celebrations and have something other than the standard soup or stew,” added Yasmin.

Special bond

Carers build up a special bond with those they care for with many tasked with the Christmas shopping lists of their clients. Extra time is spent making sure everyone who is alone is cared for over Christmas.

“Our carers will go out and buy chocolates and a card so that maybe a wife, who is housebound, is able to give a gift to her husband. On Valentine’s day a number of carers bought a single rose and card so that a person they care for had a gift for someone they love.

“It’s the little things that make care at Christmas extra special,” explained Yasmin.

Many carers will spend extra time with clients over the festive season, having a cup of tea, taking time out for a chat and noting when a client who lives alone is short on supplies.

“Many of our carers would pick up the shopping for clients and often buy things out of their own pocket when they notice they are running low on something,” added Yasmin.