Caring students extend work placements to support coronavirus battle

Kind-hearted students are taking over some of the hard work from care home staff still battling the affects of the coronavirus pandemic.
UCLan students have been helping out at care homes and day centresUCLan students have been helping out at care homes and day centres
UCLan students have been helping out at care homes and day centres

Throughout lockdown health and care students from the University of Central Lancashire have been volunteering at care homes in Preston, Blackpool and across the Fylde coast to cover for staff and support residents, including Bethany House and Arrowsmith Lodge, both in Preston.

Although the bulk of the crisis is easing, some students have decided to carry on helping out and have extended their placements in care homes and at day care sites including a centre which provides care and support for young disabled people.

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Students have been helping care home residents with dementia and other conditions to keep talking with family members during the pandemic while others have been helping older people to manage in their own homes while isolating.

Colette Eaton, from UCLan’s School of Community Health and Midwifery said work placement was a core element of the foundation degree in health and social care and every yearr students work with a number of care homes and agencies all across Lancashire to gain vital experience caring for people.

However, she added: "Since lockdown began 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."

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Mikaila Sergeant from Preston has been working at Bethany Care Home in the city and 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."

Former hairdresser Mikaila has even been giving residents a weekly hairdo and added: " Not only does this help the residents to feel good but it is also builds their self-confidence and gives them one to one time."

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Bethany House manager Gill Whitefield said: "The UCLan students have become essential members of the staff team at what has been a challenging time for everyone here. They have brought their own skills to our organisation which have been above and beyond our expectations.

With the increased pressures faced by all staff, the students have been a real asset."

Colette added: " Our students have adapted incredibly well to the unusual circumstances and demands made on 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."