A care worker has relived the trauma of her nightmare 'lock-in' lockdown experience during the pandemic which saw her forced to move into a Hemel Hempstead care home to protect her 'vulnerable' dad.
Naomi Pearse worked at Mountbatten Lodge in Hemel Hempstead which, along with hundreds of care homes around the country, was thrust into the eye of the storm at the start of the pandemic on March 25, 2020.
Within weeks the home had identified an outbreak of Covid which turned Naomi 's life upside down after she was forced to move in for THREE months to protect her dad who was classed as vulnerable.
Naomi, 25, said: "I couldn't believe what was happening. On April 9 I turned up for my shift at 2pm. I was late, but there were no staff around. Eventually someone let me in and told me there'd been an emergency meeting because there was a Covid case at the home. The resident was in hospital by this time where she tested positive for Coronavirus.
"I messaged my family and they told me. 'You can't come home'. It's not safe.'
"I didn't know what to do - I couldn't put my Dad at risk. The care home agreed and said, you're not going home, We'll look after you.
"They suggested I move in.
"But while it seemed a kind gesture. It was just awful, I felt so traumatised and alone.
"I was one of the youngest members of staff and felt like I was never off duty . It was a huge responsibility. And it was so difficult as I couldn't see my family. I had nowhere else to go either as I don't drive and couldn't commute. A couple of the staff were really good but the management weren't very supportive.
"My sister, in full PPE, dropped off as many of my things as she could in a suitcase. And I tried to keep in touch via Facetime - but it was a disaster as Dad didn't know how to use it. So we wrote each other letters which I found the other day. Reading them again brought it all back. I just wasn't prepared, nobody could have been."
Naomi described how she she wasn't given a permanent room but had to keep moving as residents moved around or sadly died of Covid.
And she said she felt she was always on call - day and night.
She added: "I felt trapped and became ill while there. But I couldn't go home to be with family. It's only now that I'm processing it and dealing with it."
Naomi eventually went home in July 2020 and left the job in November but still works in the care system.
She said: "Looking back I've got mixed emotions. Lockdown was hard for everyone but to be forced to live at your place of work was just a nightmare. I did what I had to do, but never again, I hope."