Volunteers support Falkirk Council carers

Volunteers are helping support Falkirk’s social care services through one of the most challenging periods they have ever faced.

By Kirsty Paterson
Wednesday, 17th June 2020, 12:30 pm

As the Covid-19 pandemic has swept the country, staff in social care have found themselves on the front line.

Falkirk’s care home staff and home care workers have been working extremely hard to protect some of the district’s most vulnerable people while facing anxiety about keeping their own families safe.

With rising demand and staff shortages due to illness or self-isolation, the service has been stretched to capacity so, like other local authorities, Falkirk Council has been asking people with experience of care to come forward and help out in various roles.

Sign up to our daily The Falkirk Herald Today newsletter

One of those who responded to the call is social worker Tamara Horsburgh who is volunteering in Falkirk Council’s Grahamston House - and she is full of admiration for the job the full-time staff are doing.

As care homes across the country have been hit hard by the pandemic, Tamara was one of many social workers who were asked if they would return to the front line during the coronavirus crisis.

She usually works with the Salvation Army Older People’s Mission team, providing training for dementia issues. But when she was asked if she would like to volunteer to take on a more hands-on role, she didn’t hesitate.

Her redeployment was organised by SSSC - the regulatory body for social workers - which has been matching willing volunteers with local authorities.

Although she lives in East Dunbartonshire, Tamara was happy to volunteer with Falkirk Council.

Having heard horror stories about what is happening in care homes nationally, Tamara says she was careful to find out what was involved.

She said: “When I went to Grahamston Home I found the procedures are fantastic, the staff are friendly and very concerned with the safety of the residents and staff coming in, so it was actually a really good experience.

“And I love working with the residents - that’s been wonderful, that’s my comfort zone.

She has also been more than happy with the mentoring, support and training she has received.

She said: “Anybody who is thinking about going out going out into the community or to work in a care home would want to assess very carefully that the place they are going is working under the proper procedures.

“They want to assess that the place has the proper PPE, that they feel comfortable with who their manager is going to be and that they feel they can ask questions - and that was absolutely the case for me, all of that was very positive.

“But I’d encourage anyone else going out to do the same.”

She is full of admiration for the full-time staff she is supporting.

“There is a lot of absolutely wonderful work being done out there. The staff are amazing - working round the clock, having done so through these last months. Their professionalism and their compassion is one hundred per cent.”

Yvonne Skillen, an occupational therapist with Falkirk Council’s social work department, volunteered to help out as a home carer for 24 hours a week, while she also spends a day keeping in touch with her own clients.

Yvonne said: “The job is physically and mentally challenging. I actually don’t think people appreciate how hard carers work.

“Being able to help out somebody is rewarding for myself too and the people are lovely.”

She added: “I don’t think carers get enough praise - I don’t think people realise all the things they do and the speed they have to work at. They do an amazing job.”