As we reach the third month of lockdown, it is becoming clear that many of the challenges we have faced since March will be with us for some time. Alongside the sustained loss of things we enjoy – holidays, meals out with friends, trips to the cinema or to sporting events – many of us are also suffering from loneliness, isolation, and nervousness about income and job security. As we emerge from this health crisis into a period of social and economic uncertainty, we have a greater sense of our own fragility. The pandemic will have an enduring impact on us all.
There are no magical cures. But we have defences. What has always struck me as so special about our business is the difference we make to people’s lives – pandemic or no pandemic. What drives me are the recollections of seeing the smile on the face of someone we care for as their care assistant comes in through the door. Or that grateful look at the end of a call – that brief pat on the arm or lingering clasp of hands. Kindness is our business and we have the kindest workforce in the world. I write letters regularly to thank care assistants and branch teams for being remarkable – for showing deeply humbling levels of dedication, care and skill. One care assistant has voluntarily gone into 12 weeks of isolation, losing physical contact with her young kids to protect those she cares for, and taking on end-of-life care on her days off to minimise the risk of cross-infection. She is not alone. For me all this is deeply impactful. For many at the frontline it is just what they do. I only wish I could better convey how special they are.
“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” Mother Teresa’s words resonate even more now. Our business is an unending flow of acts and words of kindness across 50,000 hours of care a day. This pandemic has stolen away many important things from our normal lives, leaving us feeling hollow. But that hollow makes the echoes of kindness louder, and more meaningful. With our acts of kindness, we not only help those whose needs are greatest, but we also fight back. Just maybe we can emerge from this period as a better, kinder and more appreciative society.
Meanwhile, amidst the echoes, please hear my own “thank you,” spoken in awe and admiration.