Wednesday 23rd March saw B&M Care once again unite both across distance and in-person to observe National Day of Reflection.
Spearheaded by end-of-life charity Marie Curie, the now annual memorial marks the anniversary of when Covid-19 first took hold of the United Kingdom in 2020, and when restrictions on movement cultivated our world to shrink – a global crisis where scalable action was very much localised.
For many, unprecedented challenges were overshadowed by loss and bereavement, and whilst post-Covid normality is now starting to stabilise, today’s observance offers those who have lost a loved one collective pause in their memory.
Throughout 2020, political tributes and public clapping celebrated the tireless efforts of workforces in key sectors, but as the pandemic intensified, Covid-19 began to expose them, including health and social care. Initial oversight led to PPE shortages, low morale across staff, and fragmented responses on a local scale; but for many providers, including B&M Care, it was an opportunity to distinguish their services as valued, inclusive, and above all, responsive.
With a focus on both of the above themes – remembrance and thanks to the group’s frontline workforce – B&M Care observed the memorial at Ashlyns Care Home in Berkhamsted. Affecting the notions of reconnecting with people and that of simply being together, the group’s Head Office invited staff and residents from each of our homes, including staff and children from B&M Care sister brand Fledglings Nursery, to take part in a ‘Memory Walk’ around the grounds adjacent to Ashlyns Care Home. Besides being a collective response, the walk was an opportunity for attendees to reflect, remember, and for many, to celebrate their resilience over the past two years.
Following a minute’s silence at midday, B&M Care’s Director of Organisational Culture Colleen Wood led a service in the group’s Memorial Garden, again adjacent to Ashlyns Care Home. Speaking in memory of those who have passed, as well as the tireless achievements of our homes and their respective staff, a further speech was delivered by Operations Manager Sue Jarvis, as well as a poetry recital from Sarah Beck, Engagement Lead at The Lodge Care Home in Hemel Hempstead, and a further recital and letter reading from resident Miriam and Engagement Lead Jackie from Bury Lodge Care Home in Beaconsfield.
The ceremony concluded with the planting of a Floribunda rose in memory of Tracy Dance. Starting her career in February 1996 at St Catharines Care Home in Broxbourne, Tracy cultivated storied progression before accepting the role of Home Manager. Tracy then transferred to Willowthorpe Care Home in Stanstead Abbotts in the summer of 2009. Tracy passed away in December 2021. The rose symbolises the group’s lasting memory of Tracy.
“Today’s observance was a poignant response to both reflection and workforce resilience,” said Ruth Webster, B&M Care’s Engagement & Wellbeing Promoter.
“The sunshine, the daffodils, residents and staff from across the company, including the children from Fledglings Nursery, came together in a moment of reflection that acknowledged our resilience and celebrated brighter times ahead. Our actions, feelings and conversations around the observance reinforced a collective gratitude towards a frontline workforce that should be eternally proud of their achievements.”
Staff and residents that didn’t attend the observance at Ashlyns Care Home still marked the occasion in their respective homes. In addition to the collective moment of silence, homes led their own services and personalised tributes.
Opened in October 2021, B&M Care’s Memorial Garden (pictured below) offers a calming space to contemplate and reflect on the impact of the pandemic. Open to any B&M Care Home, the garden is framed by inscribed railings, carpeted with astroturf, and decorated with ornamental features - most notably a rose mural designed by and in memory of former carpenter Jim Magee. Opposite the mural is a Reflection Room: a bespoke outbuilding that houses a ‘Book of Remembrance’ where relatives can pay tribute to their loved ones.
The day’s observance formed part of a wider group initiative – B&M Care’s Wellbeing Week. Running from Monday 21st - Friday 25th March, one highlight of the programme is a Cycle Relay – a follow-up to the group’s first wellbeing challenge, Walk For Wellbeing. Pedalling from Monday 21st March to Friday 1st April, B&M Care has once again set staff, residents and their family and friends the task of reaching another collective goal - this time cycling a total of 3,000 miles. Similar to Walk For Wellbeing, the primary aim is to once again reconnect – both across distance and in-person – and promote physical activity and social engagement.
Aside from the obvious health and social benefits that simply getting up-and-about brings, B&M Care is using the initiative to raise valuable funds for the UK’s leading dementia charity, Alzheimer’s Society.