A FOLKESTONE care home owner has been involved with the script consultation for Channel 4’s drama ‘Help’.
Starring Jodie Comer and Stephen Graham, ‘Help’ aired on Channel 4 last Thursday night (Sept 16)
Roger Waluube, who owns Pelham House Care Home, was called upon by the production team and creators to find out the reality of working in a care home before and during the pandemic.
He was asked to advise on the scripting to ensure the fictional drama, which was not based on any individual cases, reflected an accurate picture of what the pandemic meant for care homes across the country.
Help follows the story of a Liverpool care home and how they reacted and worked with the onset of the pandemic.
The main theme is the undervaluation of care home workers and the challenges they faced in an unprecedented situation, unable to get the help they needed or the medical information required to care for their residents.
It sees the main character Sarah (Comer), starting work in the care home just before the pandemic strikes, striking up a friendship with Tony (Graham) who has early onset dementia.
Viewers saw eight residents being dropped off, having been brought from local hospitals; described as ‘bed-blockers’ to make way for the anticipated influx of Covid patients.
Sarah queries their state of health and safety of bringing them into the care home.
It then quickly escalates into lack of PPE, the desperation in getting testing kits, support from the government and NHS, and the Care Quality Commission, the care industry’s regulator.
Sarah is shown to be frantic, overwhelmed and out of her depth on a solo night shift, while residents are upset and disorientated through lack of routine, confused by being kept in their rooms and watching their visitors waving at windows, without understanding why.
It shows the frantic early pandemic days and a high volume of deaths – something Roger can relate to, having lost 10 patients to Covid in just a few weeks at the height of the pandemic.
It also shows Sarah ‘kidnapping’; Tony, with the aim of quarantining him for 14 days so he can live somewhere else other than the care home which she feels is the wrong place for him with his needs.
Roger said: “I was called by the producers to give my feedback on the scripts, as they wanted to get an honest picture of what happened within a care home during the pandemic.
Some parts were obviously dramatic and out of the ordinary, but the story of events was accurate in many parts – with events moving very fast and a huge amount of stress on staff.
“It was a complete crisis with many uncertainties and little sense of direction.
“The main issue was stress on the staff; some of whom found themselves in a position where their jobs were a risk to their families; some stayed, and some chose to go.
“The show depicts the lack of PPE, lack of clear guidance and support from the authorities and a very stretched industry trying to cope with levels of care that was beyond its capability and resources.
“I feel they’ve done well to show a slice of a major pandemic in a 90-minute drama, covering not only the practicalities but also the huge impact on the staff required to get everyone through it safely. It also shows the outcomes of covid-19 which was the undignified death of the people we are here to care and support at a time of need.”
If you missed it, Help can be watched on Channel 4’s streaming service All 4.
Coverage for this press release to date:
Folkestone & Hythe Express (print)