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Suffolk Carer Appreciation Event

On Thursday the 11th of November, more than 60 carers and care managers from care providers across Suffolk attended Ocala Healthcare’s first ever Suffolk Carer Appreciation event!

This event was a free event for people in Social Care to attend, we provided a delicious afternoon tea, live music from the talented Adam Thomas, and a free raffle with prize donations from exceptional local businesses.

This came about when our Director Adam Storey and Care Consultant Hayley were sitting in the office and talking about the challenges the carers are facing particularly during covid-19 but even before then.

They began thinking about what event Ocala Healthcare could hold which would give us the opportunity to say thank you to our team for all of their efforts. But then it occurred to Adam that it’s not just our team, it’s literally every person working in social care that are experiencing these same challenges.

The challenges carers have faced and overcome over the past 20 months is nothing short of heroic, and we wanted to show you our appreciation to them for stepping up when the going got tough.

Let me give a special shout out to the guys at Venue16 for letting us use this event room free of charge. They have done that despite their own challenges of being closed for months of lockdowns. They did that as a show of appreciation for the thousands of carers across Suffolk and the country for continuing to work on the front line of this global pandemic.

Over the past 20 months, we have seen some of the most challenging circumstances care homes have ever seen, and it seems surreal when you think back to when we entered the first lockdown. I remember my own naivety at the time, on the 23rd March 2020 we entered the first lockdown, and I’ll always remember it as the day I naively sent a message to the team saying we’ll take you out for lunch in June once this has all blown over, giving everyone something to look forward to… how wrong can you be!

We couldn’t have envisaged just how tough it would be, with people losing loved ones in their care homes and their own homes.

This has left so many people questioning why they work incare, and if it is worthwhile. Well, at Ocala Healthcare we believe times are changing.

Venue16 is our example, they’ve seen the challenges faced bysocial care and made a gesture. When I post on social media about appreciating carers I am constantly challenged about carer pay, and if even 10% of thosepeople write to their MP as I suggest, I am expecting Boris to announce properly funded social care pay rises next week!

People outside of care are aware and that means something,it means that it can change.

Maybe that is the silver lining that we need to find, that COVID-19 just might mean the issues in social care are taken seriously with a serious plan being created from the top.

But it’s not the promise of change that should keep peoplein social care, it’s the promise that you won’t find a more rewarding job outside of it.

Easier? Of course!

Paid better? Possibly!

But nowhere near as rewarding!

Humour me for a moment while I tell you about what keeps me going when I think it is too hard.

I was working on a night shift in a nursing home and went into see Fred, it was my first time at this home, so I didn’t know Fred. I did the usual check the photos for how he liked to dress, Fred was a lovely gentle and softly spoken man. Once he was ready, he asked if he looked ok and I toldhim he’ll be the best dressed man here! He was pretty happy with that.

A little while later I was with Mary who had stopped me whilst she was having breakfast. She was explaining to me about how she had been kidnapped yesterday by two people in white coats and they were not letting her husband in to get her. By the end of the conversation Mary had almost seemed to speak herself into lucidity and was telling me she had been there for 15 years and her husband had sadly passed away. It was then that Mary looked over my shoulder and said Fred you look nice today!

I turned to see Fred absolutely beaming!

I have never forgotten that smile.

Moments like that happen thousands of times every day and if we all shared them, everyone would know the appreciation carers deserve.

I previously mentioned about you stepping up when the goinggot tough, but in truth that is past tense and the face is the going IS tough.

Some of these challenges are the covid vaccine being made mandatory as of today, covid cases still rising, Brexit seeing less European care workers in the UK, and a government that one month before lockdownreferred to care work as unskilled.

This has all impacted social care recruitment and created an intensely challenging recruitment market.

Despite all of the challenges I mentioned, when asked to fight or flight, you got into the ring and although the fight is not over, and we have all taken some heavy blows, we are still standing and coming through the other side.

You should all be so proud of the work you have done in guiding the people you support and care for through this pandemic with dignity and love.

I cannot tell you what a privilege it is for us to share this event with you and to be able to stand here and say thank you.

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