Christmas wishes and an enormous thank you from us

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It’s been a year like no-one could possibly have imagined. Our way of life has changed beyond recognition and some aspects of the ‘new normal’ have taken more adjustment that others. The care sector, in particular, has gone through immensely challenging times. But goodness, did we have confirmed what we knew already:

Carers are truly amazing, special people.

And they are finally getting the public recognition they deserve.

It’s no exaggeration to say that our many of our carers made huge personal sacrifices. Some opted not to go into support bubbles with their parents, or other family members, because of the nature of their jobs. Others took up cycling (in some instances many miles) in order to minimise contact with the general public and help keep everyone safe.

We truly could not be prouder of our teams, who have pulled out all the stops to ensure that those they support weren’t only receiving the very best care possible, but dug that little deeper to try to bring joy.

Over the past few weeks Better Healthcare teams throughout the East, South East and London have been spreading a little Christmas cheer. It’s heart-warming to see how a little human connection can go a long way.

Last year Age UK estimated that around half a million older people were expecting to feel lonely. This year, even people with families will be separated from their loved-ones. Loneliness can be hard at any age.

Now that the rules have changed over the festive period, chances are more of your neighbours aren’t going to see anyone at all. It’s even more important than ever that we look out for each other.

If you can, please check in on anyone around you who’s on their own, or vulnerable. With more people being indoors, delivery services are likely to be impacted. So, if you’re going to the shops, see if there’s anything you can pick up for someone who may be not be able to get out, or who may be isolating. That could be groceries, or perhaps even a prescription.

There are strict rules in place about going into people’s homes, and this should only be done if absolutely necessary. It goes without saying to keep socially distant (at least 2m apart), wash your hands, wear a mask and use hand sanitiser. There’s advice on How to Help Safely on the gov.uk website. Make sure you are feeling completely well and you haven’t been in contact with anyone who may have Covid – even if they don’t live with you.

It’s really just a matter of taking simple precautions – we know the routine now.  Leaving your number with a neighbour can be a good idea as it gives them the peace of mind knowing that there’s someone who can help, who’s not far away.

Helping each other will help us all get through this. If you’re worried about someone’s health, call their GP – or call NHS Direct on 111 if you can’t wait for a GP appointment. If you think the situation could be life-threatening, then don’t hesitate to call 999.

This Christmas is going to be tougher for all of us, but we will get through it. The winter solstice on December 21st means that the days will start getting lighter. Just as with the seasons, this virus will not be with us forever. So let’s all try to cast our thoughts to happier times ahead. And if you can pick up the phone, or do a socially distant outdoor visit, to bring a little happiness to someone else, please do. If this year has taught us anything, it’s the importance of being connected.

To all the carers, NHS staff and key workers out there, we’d like to say a huge thank you and wish you nothing but the best for the year ahead.

We really couldn’t have got through this one without you.

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