UCLan healthcare students go to work in local care homes to provide critical support during Covid -19 pandemic

1 July 2020

Students stepping up to assist staff as care homes battle to tackle the impact of the virus across Lancashire

Health and care students from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) are stepping up to give vital support to care homes across Lancashire as they battle to deal with the Covid -19 pandemic.

Students have been volunteering to work at care homes in Preston, Blackpool and across the Fylde coast to provide cover for staff and support residents, some of whom have been suffering with symptoms of Coronavirus.

Among the local care homes in Lancashire that have been benefiting from the support of the students is Bethany House in Preston.

Other students have decided to continue and extend their existing placements in both local care homes while and at day care sites such the Big Blue Door Centre in Oswaldtwistle which provides care and support for young disabled people.

In addition students have been helping care home residents with dementia and other conditions to keep talking with family members during the pandemic whilst also assisting older people to manage in their own homes while isolating.

Colette Eaton, from UCLan’s School of Community Health and Midwifery said: “‘Work placement is a core element of our Foundation Degree in Health and Social Care and every year our students work with a number of care homes and agencies all across Lancashire to gain vital experience caring for people.

“Since the lockdown began though, our students have been incredibly determined to help some of our most vulnerable people through this pandemic. Some have continued to work for their placements in residential and care homes while other have taken on extra hours despite the obvious risks of COVID.

"All of them have been working in a high-risk environment yet have been determined to do the very best they can to support both residents and staff at this difficult time."

Among the UCLan students who have been working in local care homes during lockdown is Mikaila Sergeant from Preston.

Mikaila, who has been working at Bethany Care Home in the city, said: “During Covid the government guidelines enforce extra PPE and even though it is essential it has impacted emotionally on the residents. Some of the residents, for example, have sight issues and use alternative methods of communication such as lip reading and understanding our facial expressions.

“So with PPE this creates extra challenges for them as not only are residents unable to see their family but they cannot see our faces either with the protective equipment we have to wear.”

Mikaila adds: ”As I was once a hairdresser I have offered to do the residents hair weekly as part of an activity for them. Not only does this help the residents to feel good but it is also builds their self-confidence and also gives them one to one time”

Colette Eaton from UCLan adds: “Each of our students have adapted incredibly well to the unusual circumstances and demands that have been made of them during the pandemic– all have worked extra hours, offered cover, worked differently and creatively to help others.

“This has included helping people with dementia to talk to family members, people with disabilities to manage in their own homes while shielding, and even helping staff prepare new social distancing measures for their retail shops when they re-open.”

“We are immensely proud of their commitment to their service users, their compassion and care and their ability to reflect on the skills they have developed over the last few months.

Gill Whitfield, Manager of Bethany House in Preston, one of the Care Homes to benefit from the support of UCLan students, said: “Both of the UCLan students working with us have become essential members of the staff team at what has been a challenging time for everyone here. Both have brought their own skills to our organisation which have been above and beyond our expectations.

“With the increased pressures during lockdown faced by all staff, both students have been a real asset to our organisation.”