We caught up with Caroilín Callery, owner of Nurture’s Best crèche in Tarmonbarry, an award-winning childcare facility catering for 130 Montessori children, after-schoolers, babies, wobblers and toddlers…to find out her plans post-lockdown!
The framework allows for crèches, childminders and pre-schools to reopen on 29th June to care for children of ‘essential workers’. What does this mean for you?
All of the phases are not yet fully thrashed out in detail. For example, we don’t yet know the definition of what is an ‘essential worker’ and we need to know if the government are going to open up childcare in order to support the opening of the entire workforce.
What intervention strategies have you put in place for a 29th June reopening and, when the time comes, for a full reopening?
We have a care team of twenty staff, led by our manager Anne-Marie Tiernan, and we’ve been preparing the past four weeks for this. Our team has been very proactive and Anne-Marie has been excellent. I am so proud of how the entire care team have all adapted to a totally new way of working. As always, they have kept the best interests of the children at heart.
Give readers a flavour of your crèche’s activities during lockdown…
Nurture’s Best has a family page and from the get-go our team went into action in order to ensure the families and the children retained connections, because when everything changes so suddenly it can be difficult for children. We have daily recommendations for activities for parents to do on our family page; we have storytime every evening at 6.30 pm for our children, and this is very popular and has been viewed by over one hundred every night. We do this to show the children that the world out there is still the same. In addition, we have care room catch-up sessions on Zoom, and our team sings-songs with the children that they’ve sung together in crèche. It has been great for them to see their little pals on Zoom. This is something that’s both very lovely and very important for them.
What about future preparations?
We’ve been in constant contact with parents and we’ve looked at the building itself, and we’ll now have an external handover by parents. We will make the children fully aware of this before they come back. We have put in place extra sterilisation elements and looked at what we can do in order to further maximise the settings. As an example, staff rooms will be split and groups will be kept separate, etc. We are waiting on further guidelines, and we are clarifying details all the time. Our parents have been absolutely fantastic.
Have your staff been updating their professional skills during lockdown?
Yes, the silver lining to all of this – if there is one – is that we have embraced the restrictions in order to use them to improve our services. We used it as an opportunity for our workforce to engage in continuous professional development and they’ve been doing online courses; and in some cases doing them together through Zoom. We have a very strong reflective practice and Anne-Marie is absolutely excellent at implementing these strategies. We are Saolta accredited and we are also recognised as a Centre of Excellence. I’d like to say ‘Hi’ to all of our families and children and tell them we very much look forward to seeing them all again very soon.