How we are prioritising social care

Heather Sempey

During the coronavirus pandemic, we've had to change the way we work so we can continue to support disabled people and our staff on the frontline.

Aine has worked for us for 18 years. When her community services closed, she volunteered to be redeployed to work in one of our care homes. She told us about her experience on the frontline and how carers are the invisible heroes.

What we do has always gone far beyond providing social care. The challenges of coronavirus mean the whole charity has had to change. 

We need to make sure we continue to care and support disabled people across the UK. Keeping our staff and the 3,000 people we support safe from coronavirus is our number one priority. 

One of the ways we've done this is through redeployment of staff to frontline roles. With huge pressures on staff at residential services, these challenges place them in uncharted territory.

Preserving life by prioritising social care 

As the rate of infection and risk of transmission escalated, we've had to radically reduce the range of services we could safely provide. These included our flagship community programmes being scaled back or suspended.

Social care is a critical focus for us. It's about providing people with physical, emotional and social support. It's about helping people to maintain their independence, dignity and control.

Providing the best possible care to the people who live in our services is always our priority. When we realised our national team of support workers needed help to meet the challenges of the coronavirus, we looked to our own staff to do it.


Once I started working in the service I had to forget any kind of routine. The care we provide is 24-7. As a support worker, I had to be ready to work on a rota to meet the needs of the people we support.

Aine Gilchrist, Deputy Community Engagement Manager

Working in a care home

The importance and value support workers bring to individuals is often overlooked. Aine discovered first-hand the dedication, training and skills needed to excel in frontline social care.

"I have never worked in services before. It was quite a challenge. The training was intensive and very different from the job I was used to doing.

"Having worked in the wider engagement team, we always knew the value of community – we’ll step up and help when needed. 

"Caring for clients I previously worked with has been a huge challenge and I’ve had a lot to learn but I love the social engagement of my new role. I know I am making a difference in people’s lives in the simplest but most important ways every day."

Aine wearing a visor and mask
Aine wearing her PPE

The human cost of redeployment

Redeployment has also meant domestic upheaval and sacrifice for Aine’s family. Her new role requires her to work shifts and occasional weekends. This is a complete change from her former set hours. These changes have had considerable disruption on family mealtimes and childcare.

Currently, we spend £400,000 each month on PPE for our frontline staff. Yet, they still face enhanced risk and increased exposure due to the nature of their roles. Disabled people with coronavirus symptoms still need continuous personal care even while self-isolating.

"The uncertainty of not knowing how long I will be redeployed has had a significant impact on my family and my routine has changed too. As soon as I come home from work, everything I have been using and wearing must be washed and I immediately shower. 

"Infection control is really important for ensuring the welfare of the people in our homes. Sanitation and cleanliness are taken very seriously by service managers and all care staff to minimise the risks to our clients.

"Until I stepped into this role, I never appreciated the commitment, energy, strength of character and attention to detail needed to make a good care worker. They are invisible heroes."

A workforce of unsung heroes

Aine is one of our many employees who have embraced the challenge of these extraordinary times. Putting themselves into the thick of the battle. 

We know the importance of a compassionate care workforce. High-level care is only attainable when it is delivered by caring people. Good care transforms disabled people’s lives, supporting independence and choice. 

Protect our carers with PPE

We are doing all we can to stop the spread of coronavirus, save lives and keep people safe. More equipment to protect our carers is urgently needed.

Protect our carers with PPE