Who would believe almost six months ago the world would be like this? Going back to New Years' Eve 2019 and toasting to '2020 is going to be the best year EVER'...how wrong were we? No one could have predicted the crazy world that we are currently living in.
I always thought that our job was bulletproof too, care homes and community groups will always need entertainment, it's a given (which is true!) but when a virus comes along, I guess it is out of your control and there's nothing you can do about it, and of course, it's not just us that have been affected, it's probably around 90% of small businesses.
It's been a very tough ride for us for the last two months, and doing things I never thought I'd have to do! When the Coronavirus threat began to hit the UK, our team began to worry, as the rumours of closing care homes started to circulate. I always try to have a positive outlook, and said it'd probably just be a last resort and we've got nothing to worry about, sending out a group email to the team and giving them some pointers in case of a 'worst case scenario' and what to do, although I don't think it'll come to that. But then, just a few days later, we all seemed to lose our clients and bookings basically overnight. We have a group chat and we were all saying how many cancellations we'd had, and how many bookings we had remaining. For some, it happened over 24 hours, for others, over the space of a week. It is a truly frightening feeling when your only source of income just disappears from underneath you with little warning and through no fault of anyone else.
This was also a scary time for me, not only did I have to come to terms with all of my work disappearing almost instantly, but to reassure the rest of the team that things will be ok, when at this point, I wasn't sure what was going to happen, felt totally out of my depth and had no idea what to do next. I spent hours on the phone to government helplines, insurance companies and citizen's advice, but because our industry was one of the first to 'close', at this early stage, no one on these helplines or websites knew what to do or say, as other businesses were still operating, and not many self employed workers had completely lost all of their clients, because we work in such a niche industry. I felt very lost and a little hopeless, especially when I knew I had a whole team looking to me to help and advice. We were out of work for almost two weeks before full lockdown happened, so we could sympathise with other businesses and workers who were being closed down and furloughed.
As I tell the team on a weekly basis, it's ok to feel a little bit (or a lot) lost at the moment, it's also ok to feel demotivated and not wanting to do anything. This is the strangest thing to have happened to us in our lifetimes, so there's no pressure to feel you have to be super productive and get lots done if you don't want to. However, I've made sure to try and keep myself motivated and work on lots of things behind the scenes so that we are the best in the business when we return. We've got several exciting things coming when we return, including:
- A brand-new territory opening, so that we can work with even more care homes
- New team members
- New activities and sing-alongs
- Improved ukulele playing from the team (we've been practising!)
- New and improved measures to keep you and your residents safe
So we are really ready and raring to get back to our lovely clients and residents, we also want to thank the amazing staff that we know in our homes working so hard at this difficult time. Life in a care home must be so different right now, so we can only applaud your amazing efforts and hope that we can be back soon to help take the pressure off entertaining the residents each week. We are a team who absolutely LOVE our jobs, and miss them very much so we can't wait to be back when we can be.
Live music and interaction will be needed then more than ever - so as a small business that has really been hit hard by the Coronavirus, we do need your help and support to bounce back when we can, as it looks like care homes may well be the last to open up to the public. Even something as simple as liking and sharing our social media pages, or recommending us to a friend. If you know someone living in a care home, pass on our details (downloads available on our website, or we can post our our materials to you), or why not 'gift' a session to a local care home as a thank you to the staff and their brave residents? The care home industry seems to have been left behind in the media, not receiving any proper coverage or concern, with less focus on the hard-working staff, so let's make sure that they get the recognition (and musical entertainment!) that they deserve when their doors are open again.
Keep safe, keep inside and keep smiling!