16th – 20th March 2020
The last two weeks have been a little bit of a blur for me – not only because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but also because my grandmother was hospitalised from a fall a couple of weeks ago.
She is 86 years old and arrived from South Africa in December to visit my brother and I in the UK. My granny, Maureen, fell and broke her hip on the day she was meant to be heading back home. Thankfully she was treated and then discharged quickly and before Covid-19 really took over everything. She is recovering well but Covid-19 has made things a bit more complicated because, not only have I been caring for my granny as she recovers, but my family and I are having to take precautions to keep her safe as she is in one of the at-risk groups for the Coronavirus.
This was my second day of working from home as FCC moved to home working at the end of last week. It hasn’t been long, but I am slowly getting into a routine that means that I can juggle work and care and also continue to do my job well. I am essentially now a full-time carer, making sure my granny takes her medication and administering her injections (!), helping her in and out of the bathroom, getting her dressed, helping her with rehabilitation, cooking her meals. I am also juggling calls, responding to emails and other projects I have going on in the background.
It is worrying because my granny’s visa expires on 24 April and we have extended her flight until this day – but we just don’t know if she is going to be able to fly due to everything that is going on! This is a separate worry that we will tackle together in April, but for now, she is happy and healthy and that’s the main thing.
This week has been a challenge for me because while I have been trying to settle into a work routine that works for my FCC colleagues, I have had very lengthy meetings to attend virtually.
Technology has become completely indispensable now. As well as allowing me to work from home at such a difficult time and spare me from a commute, it’s allowing my granny to stay in touch with family and friends across the world to talk about the current health crisis affecting us all.
My role at FCC is Head of Corporate Services, which is usually an office-based role, so quite a few of my daily tasks have now moved to mobile and virtual methods of communication with suppliers, keeping them in the loop with what FCC is doing, and maintaining those relationships for when the world returns to some sort of normality.
Today, we had a board meeting preceded by a sub-committee meeting. For the first time, we held it virtually via teleconference. We had about 15 or so participants, all dialing in at different times, which meant quite a lot of juggling at my end than usual, especially as I was doing minutes at the same time. But it was a success!
Most of the other admin bits that form part of my job role, together with my direct report can all be done online, and we are speaking more than ever now – which is great in terms of continuing a good working relationship! Even though I love and embrace working from home, I am sad that I won’t be seeing any of my work colleagues for quite some time. What really helped today was a social get together online, via Microsoft Teams. It was a bit like congregating in the kitchen at work, except that we were all in our own kitchens/bedrooms/living rooms and some of us were in our pyjamas. In a funny way, we had a more meaningful chat this week than we’d usually be able to do in the office.
What did I learn?
I must say that caring for my granny and being able to work from home, takes a huge amount of stress and anxiety away from me – I can’t say I wasn’t worried two weeks ago when she fell, but I have learned to take each day as it comes. My granny’s injury is not the same as caring for someone with a terminal illness – as I know from experience. This sort of caring is much more hard work and, this time, I am juggling it with my day job. I am very blessed to have such a strong granny, who is determined to walk onto the plane in a few months’ time!
I am equally as blessed to have such wonderful work colleagues that have supported me through all of this. I must also commend the NHS because the service we received from everyone, from the paramedics rushing to our house to save granny, right through to the ladies that assisted with granny’s discharge last week, has been absolutely amazing. Let’s do everything we can now, individually and collectively, to continue to support the NHS and other social care providers during these complex and unprecedented times.