When taking a “snow day” just isn’t an option – how Norfolk’s carers beat the weather

Carer Sue Hewitt visiting Norwich pensioner Helen Parker in her home. Photo: Steve Adams Carer Sue Hewitt visiting Norwich pensioner Helen Parker in her home. Photo: Steve Adams

Saturday, January 19, 2013
12:45 PM

When the bad weather sets in in Norfolk, taking a “snow day” is not an option for the county’s carers.

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Carer Sue Hewitt visiting Norwich pensioner Helen Parker in her home. Photo: Steve AdamsCarer Sue Hewitt visiting Norwich pensioner Helen Parker in her home. Photo: Steve Adams

For Sue Hewitt, home support worker for the Norfolk County Council-run Norfolk First Support service, dangerous roads and traffic jams simply mean abandoning her car and walking to the homes of the vulnerable people she needs to visit.

She said: “I would do everything in my power to make sure that person sees a carer. They really need them.

“Sometimes we are the only people they see. Even if they have family, they might not be venturing out because of the snow.”

Among her appointments yesterday was to see 86-year-old Helen Parker who lives in the Norwich area. Four weeks after a knee operation, she has daily visits from Norfolk First Support to help her make the bed, wash her hair and do any other jobs that she might find a struggle while she recovers.

Although fiercely independent, she said knowing she can rely on the carers to visit has been reassuring.

“They’ve been charming, responsible and never refused to do anything I’ve asked,” she said.

“I’ve been absolutely delighted – not only because of their responsible way of coming. There’s been no hesitation.”

Both the county council carers and those in the independent sector, like Norwich-based Westminster Home Care, have contingency plans in for when the snow sets in.

For Norfolk First Support, it means changing carers’ schedules so they can walk to appointments in easy reach of their homes, finding out if those people living with family members can cope without a visit on a particular day, and sending carers out in pairs in rural areas. Helen Stokes, Norfolk First Support manager for Norwich, said: “We’re here to support both our service users and their carers. Our priority is people who need medication, people who can’t transport themselves, people with dementia, people on their own and people who can’t get their own food and drink.”

Jo Ardry, manager of Westminster Home Care, added: “We won’t leave anybody without care. It’s not a problem. We are ready for it.”

Do you have a story about someone who has gone the extra mile to help others during the snowy weather? Call reporter Victoria Leggett on 01603 772468 or email victoria.leggett@archant.co.uk

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