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Tony Ryan

Extra Care Assistant, Tony is well known amongst residents at Naughton Fields extra care scheme in Widnes for his helpful and warm-hearted approach in helping provide the best possible help and support for them.

Tony has been helping and supporting customers throughout the lockdown and the Coronavirus crisis.

When Coronavirus raised its ugly head back in March, Tony, like the rest of the support staff at Halton Housing’s supported housing schemes stepped up to ensure our customers and residents had the help and support they needed to ensure their safety and needs were met at this critical time.

Tony explains: “A normal day is busy enough and more than just administration. When we went into lockdown is when things changed dramatically. To keep some of our most vulnerable customers who live at Naughton Fields safe, even before lockdown we introduced a number of measures including ensuring social distancing was adhered to, signage, hand sanitiser made available and supporting efforts to increase the sanitising of public areas.”

Many residents of Naughton Fields live alone and received a letter from their GP to shield for 12 weeks. With restrictions on visitors to help stop the spread to all but essential, it was thanks to Tony and the team that many residents didn’t do without food, supplies, medication and general support to ensure their mental and physical wellbeing.

Tony explains: “It was an honour to be able to serve our residents in the way we did. We offered a ‘Dial and Deliver Service’ to residents which meant I was delivering hot meals to customers throughout the day. We also set up an ordering service for the basics such as bread and milk which was delivered in the late afternoon along with any items I had collected from the local Co-Op or chemist on one of my two daily visits for customers who were adhering the lockdown guidance.”

Tony wore many different hats on a daily basis alongside his PPE and even supported a resident with a Facetime consultation with a GP to assess a problem. Tony says: “I wore many different hats on a daily basis along with my apron gloves and mask, paperboy, Amazon and other parcel delivery boy, collecting from the local chemists and taking delivery of medication at the front entrance, delivering the post, delivering meals on wheels as we stopped as many people as we could entering the building at this uncertain time to reduce risk, I even had a face time consultation with a GP so they could examine a residents leg and prescribe medication.”

Understandably, there were some low points and high anxiety levels due to the nature of Tony’s role, particularly to ensure his own personal safety and that of residents. When it was confirmed that a resident had tested positive while in hospital, Tony, his wife and daughter were all sent immediately to be tested. Thankfully, all tests came back negative.

The response to the crisis was not without its challenges. For Tony, some days it felt like there were not enough hours in the day! Tony explains: “One of the biggest challenges was trying to fit everything required into the working day. Not really being able to take leave during the lockdown was tough but understandable. Most days we worked through lunch. The team did come together first thing for a catch-up over coffee and toast to check-in and see how everybody was feeling.”

Seeing and hearing how grateful all of our residents were of everything Tony and the team were doing was one of the most enjoyable things about working through lockdown. Tony says: “Listening to residents thanking us for going well and truly above and beyond the call of duty was just one of the real highlights for me.”

A real lockdown high for Tony came during a game of garden bingo for residents during VE day celebrations in May. “The socially distanced bingo was brilliant, and we even had prizes and a raffle. The residents truly enjoyed it as it was also the first time many of them had been out in the fresh air and seen their friends and neighbours as all communal areas were closed.” Says Tony.

Tony worked every day throughout lockdown to ensure he was there to support customers and residents who needed us most. Tony has some encouraging words for those who may be cautious about returning to the frontline. “For colleagues worried about going back to frontline, I have been in from day one going home of an evening to my wife Carol who had previously been ill for six weeks before lockdown. The safety protocols and procedures in place to keep you safe have been exemplary. You just need to obey the rules, be sensible and stay safe.”

As nasty as Coronavirus has been, it has truly brought out the best in people. We would all like to see much of the help and support the crisis brought about continue into the future. For Tony, he would like to see the can-do attitude continue. Tony says: “One thing I would keep from lockdown is the can-do attitude in difficult situations and continue to work closely with a brilliant team.”

Tony adds: “It is a privilege to work with a small but totally dedicated team of very professional and caring people who all stepped up to the mark even more so when Coronavirus raised its ugly head.  We will never forget the moto – Stay Safe – Protect the NHS – Save Lives. We should all remember this well into the future. I owe them enormously as they saved my life three years ago and I will be forever in their debt.”

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