A ‘fairy godmother’ retirement home manager who gave up her own Christmas Day to host a socially-distanced lunch for lonely residents – has been FIRED.
Caring Pam, Lewis, 54, cooked up a feast for the isolated residents and set tables six feet apart and masks were worn throughout.
The police were called on two occasions after receiving reports the meal was in breach of regulations, but officers spoke to those involved and left without taking any action.
But Pam, who turns 55 next week, has now been dismissed for breaking company Covid rules – leaving her effectively homeless after 20 months living at the facility.
Pam said: “There was a table of three and a table of four, and they were six foot apart. It’s a 30ft by 30ft space, with no door, and the windows were open.
“The police came on two occasions, at about 9.30am, then again about 4.30pm.
“The first officer who came was absolutely gobsmacked – she put it down as a malicious report and said ‘please don’t let it ruin your day, you’re not doing anything wrong’.
“All the residents were going to be all alone for Christmas Day, they had no-one. We even had donations to help support the meal.
“We had offered to deliver the meals to people’s rooms if they preferred as well.”
FirstPort, which manages Regal Court retirement complex in Trowbridge, Wilts., claim they “cannot condone individual actions which break the rules put in place to protect our vulnerable residents.”
The company claims Pam broke Firstport’s rules when she opened the closed communal lounge when she heard residents would be alone due to government restrictions.
Pam added: “You have 28 days to leave after being sacked. I’m still living here, but I’m not allowed to speak to residents – the level on animosity – it’s so sad.
“The appeal is next week, but I don’t think I have a hope in hell’s chance to be honest.
“I was talking to one of the residents the other day, who said the atmosphere had been so calm since I came.
“Previous managers usually worked part-time, but I was always here. What I was told when I came was that I manage the development – not the residents.
“But that shouldn’t mean I can’t care for them.Through the first lockdown, I didn’t take any time off.”
Residents at Regal Court have been left horrified at Pam’s sacking – and at whoever reported her.
Pam, who is fighting the decision with support from her union, said: “I didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye to the residents.”
Pam has worked for FirstPort for three years, and been at Regal Court for 20 months.
She was suspended on January 4 after an investigatory hearing and, last Friday (15/01), was dismissed.
Pam has a good idea who reported the Christmas get together to the police.
“There is a resident couple here who have always been on my back,” she said.
“The residents are absolutely up in arms. They know the aggro with this couple has been going on since I’ve been here.
“A lot of people at that meal considered this couple to be their friends, but now they don’t want to know them.
“When the second police officer came back the second time and went down to speak to the couple – the wife said ‘aren’t you going to fine them for breaking Covid rules’?”
Pam has contacted the council regarding being homeless – but says at this current stage she has “absolutely nowhere to go” and is living very hand-to-mouth.
Support from residents, and their families, has flooded in for Pam in the wake of her dismissal.
One letter she received thanked her “for everything you’ve done” and added: “You are one of the amazing group of people that have kept the country happy, healthy and sane this year.”
Mell Coates, whose grandmother lives there, said on Facebook: “My Nan also lives at Regal Court and has a deteriorating health condition.
“Pam has been a tower of support for her and our family before, during and since her diagnosis!
“I cannot thank or praise Pam enough for everything she has done for my Nan and all the other residents of Regal Court. Shame on the people who reported her, and shame on First Port for their decision!!
“There are very few good and decent people in this world and Pam is most definitely one of them and first port will be hard pushed to find any one as caring and dedicated to their job as her.”
Pam added: “Mel’s nan is such a lovely lady.
“It was so awful last year – I, myself had a mini stroke beginning of last year – I’ve watched residents deteriorate so much.
“They keep going on about mental health and wellbeing – that’s what this was all about on Christmas day.”
Andy Newman, branch representative for the union GMB, said: “What Pam did was what people the length and breadth of Britain did this Christmas. They did what they could for their community and reached out to those in need.
“The employer has taken a ridiculous view and disregarded the mental wellbeing of these residents.
“The fact she has been thrown out her home and fired is completely disproportionate to what she did – which was use a lounge without asking permission first.”
A Wiltshire Police spokesman said: “We were called to reports of a Covid regulations breach at Regal Court, Trowbridge, on Christmas Day.
“Officers spoke with the persons present and confirmed no breach of regulations had taken place.”
Residents, many of whom see themselves as a support bubble, have lamented the loss of Pam from the facility.
Mandy Jones referred to Pam as a “Fairy Godmother” figure at Regal Court.
She added: “She is efficient and popular and has kept all the residents in good spirits.
“She loses not only her job, but her home, due to an unselfish act of kindness.”
A spokesman for FirstPort said: “The safety of our residents is our utmost priority and we were extremely concerned to hear about this incident, which was in breach of both government rules, and the clear guidance, we have regularly provided to our employees.
“Throughout the pandemic, we have had procedures in place to protect our residents and staff, including enhanced cleaning regimes and the temporary closure of communal lounges in retirement developments.
“An investigation is currently being conducted into this incident and, while it may have been well intentioned, we cannot condone individual actions which break the rules put in place to protect our vulnerable residents.
“At the start of the pandemic we recognised that loneliness was a key concern, particularly in our retirement developments where many residents live alone and communal lounges were closed for their safety.
“We adapted our routines to provide support but in a safe and compliant way, for instance, development managers have made daily phone calls to vulnerable residents and we have provided weekly entertainment packs, including crosswords and puzzles, for residents who would like them.”