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Life as a support worker during a pandemic

Before COVID the role of a support worker was always challenging and busy, and now PPE has been added into the mix.

Support worker Leah Symons

Support work and care work doesn’t stop for a virus, instead we protect ourselves and the people we support. Before entering the house we have our temperatures checked, if it’s above 37.7 degrees celsius we are not allowed in. We put our mask on and we’re nearly ready. If we are going to be within 2 metres of the people we support then we also wear an apron and gloves. We keep our masks on throughout the day, changing them when necessary. The gloves and apron are changed in between giving personal care to different people. The masks were tough to get used to especially when they rub. In the beginning I’d often use mask extenders or headbands with buttons to stop the masks rubbing on my ears but not so much now.

In lockdown one we learned how to use Tiktok, it gave us time to colour and get the arts and crafts out. Drives out became the new norm.

It’s been hard making sense of all the new guidelines that come into force; by the time you get your head around it the guidelines change again. We still have routines to follow, people still need medication and essentials. Gone are the days of supporting someone to do their own shopping; many of the people in supported living have different medical conditions meaning a weekly shop can pose too much of a risk. Family visits have been non-existent since lockdown three began. If you are missing your family, imagine how people in supported living feel.

When the vaccine rolled out we were pretty much top of the list to have our vaccines. We had emails to ring up the Cardiff vaccination line and booked in for our first and second jabs. They brought forward the majority of our second jabs, this was big bonus. Now we have a box of home testing kits each. We test twice a week Monday and Thursday. The tests aren’t the best part of the job, but knowing we are doing all we can to make everyone safe is good.

Shopping trips, classes and days out at the zoo are some of the things the people I support miss. Hopefully soon we can return to a new ‘norm’. Who knows what that will consist of?

Leah Symons, Support worker, Cardiff