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'Unsung heroes' praised for supporting children and elderly during coronavirus outbreak

The council’s ‘unsung heroes’ working to keep adult social care and children’s services running have been praised for doing ‘extraordinary things in extraordinary circumstances’ during the coronavirus outbreak.

During an interview with the Advertiser yesterday (Thursday), Cllr Stuart Carroll (Con, Boyn Hill), lead member for adult social care, children’s services, health and mental health paid tribute to the council officers who are ensuring the most vulnerable residents are continuing to be cared for.

He said: “I’d like to thank all staff across adult social care and children's services because there have been some amazing examples of staff work and staff commitment.

“We have got people in our local authority who are often unsung heroes who are doing extraordinary things in extraordinary circumstances.

“Our staff are our most critical asset in this emergency response and we need to keep looking after them so they can look after other people. Without our staff, we won't be able to deliver the response we need.”

Cllr Carroll, whose professional background is in epidemiology and infectious diseases, went on to outline how the council is working to ensure that adults in social care in the borough are being taken care of.

Many Royal Borough care homes are in self-isolation to help protect older residents from the disease. While this keeps them healthy physically, people who are already isolated from the community are struggling even more with loneliness.

‘Bespoke’ packages will be put in place for those who are normally cared for at home who are forced to self-isolate, with council care teams supporting older residents through technology like Skype and Zoom.

The council has also applied for additional funding from central Government, which would enable them to employ more agency staff as workers are forced to take time off sick or to look after children who are off school.

Cllr Carroll said: “A lot of care homes are self-isolating and are not open to visitors, which although is distressing because vulnerable residents rely on visits from family and friends, it is unfortunately needed to protect them.

“The vast majority understand the situation and profoundly acknowledge and recognise that this is an international public health crisis like we've not seen in a generation. I think people get that.

“We are asking residents when they can to Zoom, to Skype, to Facetime, with loved ones, and staff are trying to help enable that. I appreciate that isn't a direct replacement for face to face contact but it's the next best alternative.”

Cllr Carroll added that if anyone is concerned about a vulnerable family member, they should contact him on cllr.carroll@rbwm.gov.uk

For vulnerable children, Cllr Carroll stated that plenty was being done to support them during this uncertain period.

Following the Government’s announcement that vulnerable children would be given lunch vouchers, the Royal Borough has taken this a step further, offering ‘grab bag’ lunches at school for those most in need, as of today (Friday).

Council support services are continuing to work with schools to provide help for vulnerable children, and the council’s safeguarding services are still accessible on its website.

He said: “I encourage people to make immediate contact if there’s any safeguarding concern at all, and that system will continue to operate as much as possible, it's placed at the top of our priority list.

“It’s disruptive, it's a challenging situation but it's something where we all need to pull together, parents, friends, family, local community, to support our young people and our children.

“This is a difficult time for them. Some pupils were planning for exams, they have big life choices to make, it's very important every single one of us plays our part in supporting them.”

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