Carol

The care home manager

Played by Claire Knight

Carol, a manager in her office, anticipating a busy day. It’s an ordinary day, but staff shortage means Carol is needed on the front line (which she enjoys) as well as doing risk assessments, care plans, viewings for new residents, and today the environmental health are coming to inspect the kitchen. There’s a lot of paperwork.

Carol is at her table. She’s worried. Staffing problems. Some skilled and reliable staff have returned to eastern Europe. Is it the pay or the prospect of Brexit that is driving them out? She’s needing to use more agency staff and the cost is a serious issue.

Carol is trying to source PPE. The cost is up and food deliveries are also a problem. Family visits have been stopped. Angry relatives are demanding to visit and complaining that they are paying and must be allowed in. She guesses she doesn’t have any Covid and she’s got her fingers crossed. People will see how serious it is with lockdown.

Carol is tired and worried. Twenty admissions from hospital this week. None tested and all to be isolated for fourteen days. PPE is delayed, and they’re making do with makeshift items. Some staff sleep in the training room to protect their families and residents. Things have changed. No more residents sitting together in the day room now, no Barbara singing to everyone.

Carol coughs and says everyone is paranoid about getting Covid. Some GPs are refusing visits and hospital admission is almost impossible. All staff should have had a test. But it is a two-hour round journey in a car and not everyone can do that, especially after a long shift. Carol got home just as the NHS clap started. A neighbour rebuked her for not clapping, asking was she not supporting our brave NHS? She imagines it must be a nightmare in the NHS, but in the care home they feel invisible.

Carol breaks news about the death of a resident to a family, who hang up on her. Another family threatening to sue. Death is normal here but it’s normal to be with family, as Carol was when her mother died. The staff create a file of memories and pictures for the bereaved. But no one should die without their family. The old and frail are “the best of us”. She needs to get home quick for her ten-year old’s birthday. The child is clingy and afraid. Her husband has been home schooling.

In her dressing gown after her daughter’s birthday party. They had fun. A good night.

The next day, her child is ill, and so Carol is moving into the care home. She’s not slept in days. One staff member is in intensive care. Carol knows Erin blames herself. Barbara is still deteriorating and keeps falling. Ten residents have died. Funeral directors are bringing the hearses past the care home for people to pay respects. People who were happy are fading away, barely talking, or shouting for family as if they’ve been abandoned.

The Actor

Carol is played by Claire Knight. Claire is an established actress with companies such as BBC, Royal Lyceum Theatre Company, Pitlochry Festival Theatre, Dundee Rep, Perth Rep, The Traverse, and playing the regular role of ‘Iona McIntyre’ in BBC Scotland’s continuing drama ‘River City’ for over 6 years. Claire is now also an agent and is passionate about supporting, nurturing and promoting Scotland based artists in all forms of work throughout the UK and beyond.

Claire in her own words

About dementia and the current situation Claire says “I can’t begin to imagine how difficult it must be for those working in care homes throughout this period, not to mention the emotional strain on the residents and their families.  As we hear more in the media about failings in care homes during the pandemic, I felt it was really important to have a balanced view of the pressures placed upon staff not just practically, but mentally, physically and emotionally.”

Resources

If any issues arise for you on looking at this film, you may find some of the resources here helpful, or contact the Trust on admin@dementiatrust.org.uk. If you know of any resources that we should include on this page, or links to another website, please let us know. Although Take Me With You is a work of fiction, every plot line in the story is lifted from a published news story or the personal experience of the writers and actors.

Some of the news stories are listed here, but the Trust is happy to be asked about any parts of the story that anyone feels present and exaggerated, unfair or untrue picture.

What a care home manager does is a good description of the role of the person responsible for the leadership and day-to-day running of residential care homes

How to become a care home manager is an article about how to get such a job

As a manager Carol’s role includes caring for the mental welfare of her staff. The recommendations of the British Psychological Society are here

If you have concern about health and well-being of the social care workforce the Government guidance is here

Complex conversations and decisions for care home leaders | Older people | Royal College of Nursing

Skills for care webinars for care homes. Topics include:

News stories

Care home manager, 29, is reunited with her daughter after 79 days apart is a story about the personal sacrifice made by someone like Carol

Care home manager on dealing with coronavirus describes how one care home coped

Ministers “missed warnings” that care home staff could spread virus is a story that highlights how little of the knowledge about care homes was translated into policy

At the end of July, an announcement was made that regular retesting will be rolled out for care home staff and residents “from next week”, months into the crisis. This illustrates how testing in care homes was a low priority

There was speculation that the care home sector will be reviewed, as part of a review of social care