Retirement on hold as Carol stays on the frontline in Craven

Frontline workers remain as important as ever as work goes on every day to support those who need help during the pandemic.

Carol McKenzie was about to swap her life working in the Airedale Discharge Command Centre for retirement, helping out on the family farm and running her holiday cottage business in the Yorkshire Dales.

But as her retirement coincided with the Covid-19 pandemic, she was asked if she could stay for a bit longer.

Carol has worked for health and adult services for 37 years and in Airedale for the past 16 years – and she and her colleagues work well together to ensure the job is done.

As a team they’ve adapted to lockdown to ensure they continue communicating clearly with each other and with service users and their families to ensure the top level of care is being reached.

Carol McKenzie and husband

Carol said: “I was due to retire in March and the Sunday before I was due to finish I got a call asking if I could stay.

“Because I knew the job, I thought it was the right thing to do – it would be hard for a new person to learn while having to do everything virtually.

“It was in the middle of lambing season though, which my husband was hoping I could help with – sometimes I’d be in a virtual meeting and there’d be some funny noises because I’d be feeding a lamb at the same time.”

On a usual, pre-Covid day, Carol would be up early to make the 23-mile drive to Airedale Hospital.

She and her colleagues would assess patients in order to get them discharged safely, working closely with health colleagues to ensure a smooth transition.

The pandemic changed her way of working because she has to do this from home, with health staff making the trusted assessment referral on the patients and feeding back.

She said: “It’s harder speaking to family members over the phone rather than in person – I always think it’s harder for them to ask questions, but we ensure we have someone ready to answer any calls for them if they need to call back.

“It’s all about giving people the confidence that the correct support is in place for their loved ones during this time.

“The team was close-knit and experienced anyway, so it’s really helped me having that support, too.

“The Craven area and the teams within the area all work well and efficiently and effectively together.

“There has been a lot of good will from the teams to make this temporary new way of working work.”