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Keeping Norfolk safe and well over the festive season

29 December 2020

For many families across Norfolk, Christmas will be celebrated differently this year, but for Norfolk County Council’s Norfolk First Support workers, the festive season will be ‘business as usual’ as the teams make over 950 visits a day across the county.

NFS (Norfolk First Support) will have its usual number of staff working over the Christmas and New Year period, reabling and supporting people in their own homes or in NFS accommodation-based reablement units.

People who have an urgent, unplanned care need, for example if they have fallen over but do not need to go to hospital, will receive the support of the County Council’s Swifts and Night Owls, who will be working 24/7 as usual during the holiday season.

Also on duty will be the Assistive Technology and Sensory Support teams, who will be working to provide technology and support to enable people to live independently, by staying in their own homes safely.

For practical help, such as food shopping, development workers will be available for any referrals that need to be made to the District Community hubs.,

All the teams are part of the Early Help and Prevention service in Adult Social Services and have carried on working during the pandemic to support the people of Norfolk to stay in their own homes and to be as independent and safe as they can be.

James Bullion, Norfolk County Council’s Executive Director of Adult Social Services, said: “It has been an unprecedented year in every way and there have been some fantastic examples of how colleagues have risen to the challenges put before them. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them again for all their hard work.

“As friends and families may not be together this year, our colleagues working over Christmas have an even greater role to play, providing support to keep people safe and well in our communities.”

Support workers working this Christmas

Leeanne Harrison, a Reablement Support Worker in Norwich has been with the County Council for four years and is one of our mentors for new staff.

“Our job as Reablement Support workers is so important for those vulnerable and poorly service users needing valuable support to stay in their own homes, not just during these Covid-challenging times or because it's Christmas. It's about spending time with them and spreading happiness and joy to them all year round.

“This Christmas will be very different for everyone this year but knowing we will be working all over the festive period makes us all feel so happy and joyful, to know that we will be making someone else's Christmas, especially those service users that may be alone this Christmas. Service users appreciate having visits from us because for many we will be the only ones they get to see and as many would say, we make their days and they enjoy the company.”

Melissa Willis, Reablement Support Worker – North is 41 and has worked for NCC NFS for just over a year as part of the Assessment Team. 

“We assess new service users from hospital or community for up to six weeks . Our team are based all around North Norfolk. We promote independence within our service users’ home and back to a normal way of life before becoming unwell. We also help with people going to ongoing care or palliative in some cases . It is a very rewarding job. I love going to work and have always enjoyed being part of a fantastic team and management.”

“Our job at Norfolk First Support (NFS) is extremely important at Christmas time. This can be a humble experience for us to help our service users. In a time of uncertainty and low mood, seeing them smile and helping them makes me happy to be there in their time of need.

“When they haven't got their families around them, we are their happiness and family in some cases. I am privileged to be part of a fantastic team and working together makes it even more special. I feel so so lucky.”

Sonia Spall, Reablement Support Worker - North

“My job role is a support worker for Norfolk First Support. I'm a team worker for North Team covering the Horsford and Drayton area but can spread wider. I am part of a support team of 12 we provide care to clients in the community in their homes. Often these are very elderly and vulnerable people and I work with them, support them and help them remain independent, safely in their own home."

“I've worked for social services since 2004 as a home care worker, then in 2007, Norfolk First Support started. I'm proud to have been a part of this team for 16 years and look forward to the next 16 years to come.

“Over Christmas 2020 this is going to have a big impact on many people who can’t get to loved ones or even have a visit because of ill health, that’s why our NFS service has been available for clients at this difficult time.

“Too often we underestimate the power of our service, NFS support, by not just giving an assessment for reablement or for ongoing service but for a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around in some way.”

Nicola Rebbek, Reablement Support Worker – North

“I’ve been working with Norfolk County Council NFS for 17 years and I enjoy working with people and making a different to their lives.

“We provide support to people to regain independence as much as possible, it makes our job worthwhile, to see quality of life improve due to our support. Having support when they need it the most gives them hope to keep trying. A visit at Christmas can be very uplifting.”

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