If there’s one positive thing that has come out of the pandemic it is that many, who’d never given much thought about the role of carers in hospitals and nursing homes, haven’t been able to escape an awareness of their crucial role in caring for our loved ones in our absence, and tragically in some cases, even holding their hands as they take their last breaths.

But there’s yet another band of hidden frontline heroes who, even in normal times – if you remember those – play a notable role in the lives of Heathlands Village’s residents and Moorview tenants: our housekeeping staff!

During the pandemic their work has assumed greater importance than ever as they’ve been charged with helping to keep our care home virus-free with increased cleaning routines, especially of hot-spot surfaces such as door handles and lift buttons.

But a less obvious aspect of their job can easily be overlooked. ‘Sandra’, whose Mum ‘Maisie’ lives on Heathlands Village’s Wolfson Unit, tells us:

“Mum has a really nice relationship with one of the housekeepers, Irene, who’s been cleaning her room daily for coming up to two years. Mum has to spend a lot of time resting in her room and often doesn’t feel up to going downstairs to see her friends or join in the activities.

“This has been especially hard during lockdown when my sisters and I haven’t been able to see her in her room or take her down to the café for lunch.

“Mum told me she and Irene ‘have fun together’. It dawned on me how Irene has become a significant person in mum’s life – Mum looks forward to seeing her and having a chat and a laugh together. Clearly housekeepers do so much more than just tidying and cleaning – they become friends too. They contribute to keeping people’s spirits up and helping them feel less isolated.”

Julie Dixon heads up a team working across our home’s eight living areas.

“They are so much more than just housekeepers. They befriend residents; play music and sing and dance with them; encourage them to do a bit of cleaning to give them a sense of purpose; help them choose what to wear and with any hobbies like watering their plants.”

Pat Slater is one of Julie’s team and has worked at Heathlands Village for over 20 years, first on the care team and in recent years as a housekeeper on the first-floor residential household.

“I enjoy my job immensely and I love my residents. So far as I’m concerned, they could be my mum or dad, aunty or uncle and that’s how I treat them.

“Sometimes I’ll help them on with a jacket or cardy or if they’re feeling peckish or thirsty, I’ll pop down to the kitchen and get them what they want. It’s important to me to make them really feel that this is their home.

“We’re lucky because we have more time than the care staff to spend with our residents. As we’re working, maybe changing the bed or sweeping the floor, we talk to people about their lives – they’ll tell me about bringing up their children, what work they did and so on. Some of them have fantastic stories. I remember one man who was a tenant on Moorview telling me how he came over as a little boy in the war – it was unbelievable.

“I often dance and I sing when I’m working. One sweet man, who died very recently, would tell me, ‘Don’t let them stop you singing ‘cos you cheer me up’”.