18 Feb 2024

Homecare staff go ‘above and beyond’ to reach clients in snowy and icy conditions

A homecare provider has praised its staff for the efforts they made to reach vulnerable clients during the recent snowy and icy conditions in South Lakeland.

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In some cases, Westmorland Homecare staff had to rescue colleagues who had become stuck in snow and ice on their way to clients’ homes.

And two staff climbed on board a quad bike driven by the son of a client to ensure they reached the man’s elderly father.

“Our homecare assistants have shown a great camaraderie, have come together as a team and gone above and beyond to help each other and ensure our clients get important continuity of care,” said Kesley Walmsey, registered manager of Westmorland Homecare’s South Lakes branch.

Westmorland Homecare provides hundreds of hours of care each week to enable vulnerable and often frail people over the age of 18 to live independently in their own home. Its services include home care, such as help with housekeeping and meal preparation, and personal care, such as help with medication, dressing, bathing and living their life to the full.

It constantly monitors Met Office alerts and had a continency plan in place to deal with the recent snow and ice.

“A lot of our clients live in hilly areas so even a small covering of snow or ice makes it difficult to reach them,” said Kesley.

“Our first step is to look after our carers so we make them aware of the likely weather conditions and encourage them to be prepared with warm clothing, food and drinks in case they get stuck in their vehicles.

“Then we contact all our clients and their families and let them know what is coming and tell them to keep their heating on, stay warm and have emergency contacts in place.”

Office-based staff monitored the progress of homecare assistants to ensure they were logging in regularly and are safe.

Kelsey said snow and ice made driving conditions particularly difficult in the Grange, Windermere and Ambleside areas. “We had some instances where carers and office-based staff had to rescue colleagues who got stuck. One of our directors, Dr Chris Moss, also went out in his 4x4 on the first night to take homecare assistants to clients’ houses.”

Kelsey stressed the strong partnerships with clients’ families. In one case a family member collected homecare assistants in a tractor while farmer Geroge Tayor, who lives at Crook, collected Jane Strickland and Rachel Thomas on his quad bike so they could reach his elderly father.

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In some cases staff parked in a safe area and walked to a client’s home but the company was keen not to put staff at risk, particularly as it got icier in the evenings, so worked together with volunteers from the charity Cumbria 4x4 Response, which on three evenings used its vehicles - which are equipped with winter tyres – to collect WHC staff and drive them around to clients’ homes.

Kelsey explained it was important clients received their regular visits and had continuity of care from their regular homecare assistant because some might not allow staff they did not know and trust into their homes or to carry out certain tasks. If that happened clients could be at rick of lack of medication, malnutrition and dehydration.

“It has been a challenging period but working hard as a team and with our partners we have been able to maintain our usual high quality of care,” said Kesley.

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