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Facing the coronavirus challenge head-on

National Star staff wearing PPE protective masks and clothing

National Star’s priority throughout the pandemic has been the health and wellbeing of the young people and adults we support.

Many of those with disabilities and complex health needs are most at risk from coronavirus, which is why we have gone above and beyond government guidance for infection control. 

Personal protective equipment is often uncomfortable to wear, especially during 12-hour shifts, but our team do it day in and day out. They will stop at nothing to protect those in their care.

Each student and resident has a coronavirus care plan based on individual health needs. Therapies are essential to the health and wellbeing of students and residents, so National Star developed processes to ensure therapy sessions could continue.

During the first wave of the pandemic a 24-hour physiotherapy service was set up with staff on call to respond to respiratory emergencies. Keeping students and residents out of hospital remains critical to reducing the risk of coronavirus.

National Star now operates in cluster groups with education teams, care staff and therapists assigned to a particular group of students. Thanks to specialist equipment and resources, often made possible through support from donors, we allocated items such as standing frames, trikes and other equipment to each residence to continue treatments whilst reducing the risk of infection.

Social distancing can be difficult to maintain when delivering vital physiotherapy sessions. Fluid–resistant gowns, FFP3 masks, visors, scrubs and shoe covers are worn by physiotherapists when conducting chest physiotherapy, which is vital to maintaining the health and wellbeing of residents and students with compromised health conditions.

In aquatic therapy sessions, masks and visors must be used by our therapists whilst in the water. This presented some major challenges so now full-face snorkel masks are being worn by staff supporting students in the pool. Slings used to lower students safely into the pool are washed for three hours at 90 degrees after each session to prevent cross-contamination and equipment is washed in specially designed decontamination barrels.

That attention to infection control happens every hour of every day as our staff risk assess every situation to ensure we have done our utmost to protect students and residents. Every member of staff, from nurses to the catering team, play a vital role.

Never in our 53-year history are we more grateful to have our dedicated team of experienced staff. Their professionalism and commitment to those people we support and care for is the one constant in these uncertain times.

Read all of the stories in the latest edition of StarNews

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