Greg Lambert talks to Claire Evans to discover how her home care company kept in touch with elderly people during the floods and power cuts.
We have heard many tales of how Lancaster businesses coped admirably with the December floods and power cuts.
But one home care firm had bigger challenges than most because their elderly clients were stranded too.
While Bluebird Care’s office on Chapel Street was under water and without power after the Lune broke its banks on the weekend of December 5 and 6 2015, their main concern was to keep in touch with some of their most vulnerable customers.
Bluebird Care staff go out to pensioners and help them get up in the morning, wash, shower or bathe and get them dressed. They help them take medicines or collect medication from the chemist, prepare meals, do their shopping, laundry and ironing, and help them tidy their homes.
So when Storm Desmond hit, this created a massive logistical problem for director Claire Evans and her team.
“We have 20 clients in the affected area,” said Claire.
“We had computers floating around and no phone coverage, no power and our customers couldn’t contact us because they had no electricity themselves. Some of them rely on electricity for their mobility.
“We also lost clients’ names, addresses and telephone numbers.
“We sent our staff out to make contact with some of our most vulnerable customers. We had to make sure everyone was OK.
“It was very very challenging, a major major stress. It was also my daughter’s 18th birthday party so it was a surreal experience that day.”
With the Chapel Street premises a write-off, Bluebird Care then had to find a new base.
“We operated from my home for a few days and then moved to Riverway House,” said Claire.
“The landlord was very good, he offered the new office to us very quickly.”
But Claire says as a new and growing business, the disruption cost her more than just replacing office contents.
“It was a total loss in terms of office premises.
“But I also wasn’t able to spend any time marketing or trying to promote the business or recruit new staff. If we don’t grow then we don’t survive.
“My office contents insurance claim is for £13,000 and I also applied for a recovery grant of around 5,000 which was a big help. We have had so many phone and internet problems. People don’t know that we’re here (at Riverway House) and that we still have a job to offer.”
Bluebird Care, which set up in 2004, offers home care and support services across the Lancaster and Morecambe district and the South Lakeland area. The firm was recently accredited in the North West Palliative Care Programme, known as ‘Six Steps to Good End of Life Care’ after staff received training at St John’s Hospice.
Bluebird Care is now based at 307 Riverway House on Morecambe Road, Lancaster, tel 01524 388829.