The year that never ends

James Hourihan, Author

Exhausted but still standing

In the past few weeks, we’ve been discussing with teachers and carers about how they feel in  the last couple months of 2020. Unsurprisingly, one word occurs over and over again.


They’re exhausted dealing with the restrictions covid-19 has placed on their ability to do their jobs properly. Exhausted with the pressure of worrying about becoming ill and potentially passing it on to their families. Exhausted with worry about how this is all impacting on the people they teach and support.

From 0-100 mph

When the pandemic arrived on Britain’s shores, society was brought to a grinding halt. We had to adapt rapidly. In care homes, families and visitors were stopped from coming in, daily routines had to be reorganised, there was a rush to secure PPE and anti-bacterial hand gel. In Education, exams were cancelled, students were sent home for a long extended summer break without most of the pleasures that entails. What we saw next was remarkable. Front line staff were creative and moved with a sense of purpose despite little national support or financial input. In Joan Munro’s blog post on Transforming Public Services, she identifies the astonishing speed with which some services changed in as little as 24 hours. This transformation of services was counterintuitive, as most people see the education and care sectors as a slow lumbering, underfunded, underperforming beasts.

Vulnerable and we don’t like it!

Beyond the education and care sector, the pandemic had an impact on everyone in society. Even those who are self-sufficient, healthy and financially stable. Covid-19 created an air of vulnerability, a feeling of uncertainty. In some cases, a lack of trust in those in authority. Of course, the most vulnerable in society, as usual were the ones who suffered the most. The impact of Covid-19 in care homes was catastrophic with people dying and unable to see their families. People with Learning Disabilities in care were significantly more likely to suffer disproportionately from Covid-19. Children were sent home and those waiting for exams had to deal with the anxiety of waiting for their grades based on a series of ever changing processes.

Onward and Upward

This newfound vulnerability brought out the best in many people. Community groups sprang up and those who are more fortunate, like Marcus Rashford, organised and raised money for foodbanks and successfully lobbied the government to change their policy on school meals. Others, like Captain Sir Tom Moore, raised more than £35million for the NHS. There is an increased awareness in society of the pressures that care staff and teachers are placed under. This has increased public empathy which may well change the way education and care staff are perceived.

Are we nearly there yet?

The pandemic is nowhere near over and some epidemiologists suggest it may well get worse before it gets better. However, there are potentially some long term benefits from the creativity we’ve experienced in education and social care. The sharing of information, the increased use of video calls to communicate, the increased empathy and people working together. These all bode well for medium to long term improvements. We may never return to the normal, but, in education and care, that may not be such a bad thing.

Where do we fit in?

As a learning organisation, Timian places emphasis on understanding and empathy. The current crisis has created problems and opportunities for us. With in-person training creating more risks, we have partnered with organisations to support them by utilising hybrid learning techniques. E-learning, learning remotely and shorter sessions via zoom have enabled us to provide some stability during this time of crisis. If you want to explore ways of working with us, then do not hesitate to get in touch by email below.

James Hourihan, Director Timian Learning and Development

Ref: Joan Munro’s blog post on Transforming Public Services for the RSA,

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