Emotional homecoming for dedicated Doncaster care home staff who went into lockdown with residents

It was a special moment for Doncaster care worker Claire Donaghue.

By David Kessen
Thursday, 4th June 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th June 2020, 3:16 pm

After two months away from her husband and her son, she was finally re-united with her loved ones.

The 45-year-old from Wheatley had been apart from husband Garry and son Keiran since becoming one of a team of 11 who moved out of their own houses to join the 21 pensioners they looked after, living in lockdown with the residents at the Anchor House care home at The Avenue, Wheatley.

But today they are together again after the Government eased lockdown, weeks after Claire and her workmates made the move to live in the care home to make sure they could keep the residents as safe as possible.

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The staff at Anchor House care home in Doncaster

The team’s motto throughout was: “Our residents do not live in our workplace. We work in their home.”

When the workers left the care home for the first time since March, they were greeted by applause from families of those who they look after.

Claire, was picked up by her son’s girlfriend, Holly, who lives with the family.

She said: “I came out of the home, and I cried. When we were due to leave, emotions were running high. You just can’t wait to go home and see your family again.

“I was actually quite nervous when I got home, because I had felt so safe in the care home. I was worried about things like going shopping. Everyone at home was getting used to the idea of getting out and doing things like that, but I’d not been shopping.

“But it was great to give everyone at home a big hug.”

Garry and Keiran had recently returned to work after being furloughed, but were told by their bosses they could leave early to meet Claire for the moving re-union.

“I just told them I loved them and was crying,” she said.

She had made sure they knew how to use the washing machines, and talked them through how to make a Shepherd’s pie at one stage while she was in Anchor House.

Deputy manager at the home Sandra Shinn had also moved in – but her husband also works at Anchor House, so they remained together during the whole period.

But she said they also found it emotional to go home again after two months living in the home.

“It felt strange to leave Anchor House after all that time, and very emotional for everyone,” she said.

“We have seen loved ones outside the windows, but had to keep our distance.

“When we came out for the the first time, there were people outside clapping us – cheering and clapping. That moment was wonderful – I think we felt a bit overwhelmed by it.

“We had kept the residents safe – we had kept coronavirus out.

“My husband works with me here, so we were still living together, but it was still quite odd to be out again. We’ve having to learn to go shopping.

“There were people who were going back to their families after two months, and clearly that was very emotional for them all.

“It was lovely to sleep in my own bed again and be in our own surroundings. But we have learned to live with people that we’d never lived with before over the last couple of months. I think we did really well and we all got on 24 hours a day.”

She said several staff shared the owner’s flat with her, while the manager Karen Greaves slept in her office. Cook Kat Harrison slept on a blow-up bed in the basement.

They are still caring for the residents, with protective equipment such as masks and gloves.

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