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Social care in Denbighshire ‘stretched to breaking point’ at height of pandemic

A council chief has revealed how staff were “stretched” and “some were at breaking point” during the height of the pandemic and at times she wanted to stay in bed “with the duvet pulled up”.

Nicola Stubbins, Denbighshire council’s corporate director for communities, gave the revealing insight before the authority’s performance scrutiny committee.

Presenting the draft annual report for social services she responded to a query about remarks in the study in which she said services were “stretched now to a point I’ve never seen before”.

Ms Stubbins said at times during the pandemic staff were “stretched” and “some were at breaking point” with high “levels of sickness in front line services because of Covid”.

Senior staff had volunteered in care settings as the problems mounted and she gave a rare insight into the pressures all staff were under during the worst of the pandemic.

She said: “(The pandemic) has taken its toll – it’s taken its toll on myself to be honest.

“It’s the commitment to public service work which runs through the core of what we do.

“It’s a concern we will lose people (through leaving their jobs) – people are making different life choices as a result of the last 18 months.

“Staff were stretched – some were at breaking point and some fell down but we were there to catch them.”

Her voice faltering, she continued: “We lost colleagues…some of our colleagues died…we lost residents.

“There were days when I would have happily stayed in bed and pulled the duvet back up.”

The report said providing ongoing support for staff during the pandemic had been one of the authority’s “key priorities”.

Ms Stubbins said: “We did absolutely everything we could, providing wrap-around support and work therapy assistance programs – all of us were here on call 24/7.”

Ms Stubbins thanked councillors for the additional funding they had agreed for social services and social care over the past few years, as the council was being forced to slash outgoings because of reduced handouts from Welsh Government.

She said every department within the council had been told to make efficiencies.

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