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April 2020

Interview with Varuna and Annalisa, team leaders of Sherman Household

We want to tell everyone the reality of life at Nightingale House during this pandemic.

“Upon learning that Covid-19 had reached our country, we thought we would be OK. This is the UK – we will cope. Reading what was happening was one thing but it didn’t really apply to us, did it?”

When lockdown was enforced, Analisa felt happy; she was confident that it would surely stop the spread. Varuna had feelings of anxiety and was scared, she did not fully comprehend what was happening and worried how we were to get through this. I suspect this was a reflection of many. Analisa now lives at Nightingale House, only going home once a week. Transport disruptions meant it was too difficult to travel between long shifts and the demands on her time are so great that she prefers to stay here. Varuna leaves home much earlier in the morning as public transport takes so long right now. There have been many changes to everyone’s working day and she comments how quiet it is at Nightingale House, she’s never known it to be quiet here before – “Nightingale is always so full of life” and she misses that.

They have also taken on other roles that would normally be carried out by other professionals, such as a podiatrist or chiropodist treatment. Advice or direction is given by skype and they question if this is going to be a new normal? They definitely agree, however, they are managing really well. Many of their colleagues have taken time off, whether it’s because they have symptoms or are isolating. This has put extra demands on their roles but again agree they are doing well. The support they have received from HR has been invaluable; they have helped educate the teams and guided them with how to manage their day to day work. Their exact words were, “HR have done a fantastic job. So kind. They have really stepped in and helped us along this whole journey. They are amazing.” I cannot overestimate their enthusiasm and the clear thanks they have. It was a joy to hear. I asked if there was anything further that Nightingale could do for them to support their work. The answer was no, everyone has been “fabulous – SLT, HR, all the departments – they have been so helpful, so kind and this terrible virus has really brought us all together”.

Talking about the hardest element of lockdown; the answer was clear and immediate, “losing some of our residents and hearing they had passed away, I cry and cry. Having to call a family with this news is so, so hard”. I could only feel for them and empathise with the reality of what their daily lives hold. However, their message to anyone considering coming to work at Nightingale was that, “It’s safe. Everything is in place. We have PPE and we now know what we are dealing with. We are proud of how we have dealt & coped with this”.

To families considering Nightingale Hammerson as a home for their loved ones, they go on to say, “It is the best place, it’s like a home and I feel at home here. I’m feeling emotional, this place is my biggest achievement and I am so happy to be part of the Nightingale Hammerson family. I have worked in 4 other care homes and they cannot match the standard of Nightingale, there is no comparison. The quality of care is another level, it’s excellent and I don’t think it could be matched”. They look at each other and tell me, “We love Nightingale”.

Closing our ‘interview’, we reflected on a few last points. I asked what it was that brought them back to work each day. Emotions were taking over and I see what truly wonderful care professionals they are; “A smile on the residents face when they see me arriving each morning. No amount of money can replace those smiles”. Analisa has been with Nightingale for 16 years and Varuna for 10 – she mentions that they still have no idea where Brubeck Lounge is; I say that it’s near the gym. “Ah. That’ll be why!” is their response.

“Nightingale House defines me, my ongoing learning and support, my friendships, our residents and their next of kin – they are all like my family.”