A rival supermarket has come to the rescue after Tesco banned care home staff from shopping during the dedicated slots for NHS workers.
Asda contacted the Pendine Park care organisation in Wrexham to say their employees were more than welcome to come to their store in the town at the allotted times.
The Tesco ban caused a furious backlash on social media with many calling for a boycott of the supermarket chain in future.
Karen Lazarus said on Facebook: “I am gutted to hear this .. these wonderful staff care for my 90 year old mother with dementia at the Pendine Park care home. I am so upset they have been overlooked like this. Shameful.”
It was a sentiment echoed by Richie Jones who said: “Well done to Pendine care homes, put their homes on lockdown and set up contact lines by phone to residents 2 WEEKS before council care homes in order to protect their residents and staff, every one of whom are a credit to the company. Do the right thing and give these employees the respect they deserve.”
Sainsburys already allow care home staff to shop at the same time as the NHS but it’s understood Morrisons have adopted a ban like Tesco
The news from Asda delighted senior care practitioner Ria Roberts, a 34-year-old single mum who works at Pendine Park’s Highfield care home.
Delighted care home staff are slapping their back pockets in thanks to Asda for allowing them to shop there during special NHS time slots.
Ria says she was left angry and disgusted at Tesco’s ban.
She said: “It was a disgrace to see care workers treated differently to NHS colleagues. I love the NHS and everything they do. And I know Coronavirus has hit the NHS really hard, we all know that.
“But believe me those working in the social care sector are going to be right on the frontline too.
“We are caring for some of the most vulnerable people and we are putting in some very long hours. Knowing I can access the special NHS time slots at Asda to get shopping in for me and my child is one thing I have less to worry about.
“Supermarkets are open for reduced hours now and very often after a long shift we’d have to do without. Knowing we can now use the NHS and carers time slots at Asda is a massive weight of our shoulders.
“What Asda are saying is we’ve got your back and we will be here for you. That’s brilliant, fantastic and I’ll be telling all my Pendine colleagues.”
She added: “Supermarket staff are key workers too. They are putting themselves at risk to ensure we can shop. We are all in this together. There’s a real community spirit in Wrexham which sadly Tesco isn’t part of.
“Safe to say all my shopping will be done in Asda from now on and I’ll be telling all my work colleagues too. We are all pulling together after all and you try telling a care practitioner who has had a massive stroke or is being vented they aren’t doing what NHS workers do.
“I know NHS workers, nurses, doctors and managers appreciate what we do and how important we are when it comes to helping them by looking after many people who have really complex needs.”
Asda Wrexham manager Anita Cooper e-mailed Pendine Park after seeing social media posts about the shopping issue and made it clear that care home staff are welcome to shop at Asda during the dedicated NHS slots.
She said: “All care practitioners can shop at the same hours as NHS staff. All they need is identification. We recognise that they are doing an important job and caring for some very vulnerable people.
“NHS staff and care home staff can shop between 8am and 9am on Monday’s, Wednesday’s and Friday’s. There are dedicated till points just for NHS and staff and carers. And on Sunday between 9am and 10am we only allow NHS staff and care staff in store.
“The till operators have purple T-shirts on so they can be easily identified. We don’t want NHS staff or carers having to spend too long shopping or stood in queues. What we won’t do is discriminate between NHS and care sector workers. As far as we are concerned a care home is no different to a hospital ward.
Pendine Park proprietor Mario Kreft MBE, who is also the chair of Care Forum Wales, was grateful to Asda.
He said: “It is a very sad reflection on where Tesco sees the value of frontline social care staff in our country.
“We have 20000 beds in care homes in Wales and around 500,000 in the UK which enables the NHS to function at this most difficult of times.
“Our staff work exceptionally hard looking after some very vulnerable people. They are saving lives just like NHS staff. It was a very sad state of affairs but I’m glad to see that Asda have applied some common sense.
“We have perhaps always known that the 1.6 million social care workers in the UK are largely seen by society as second rate to their colleagues in the NHS.
“I love our NHS and will always support it as I am sure all our care practitioners would but people, including supermarket bosses, need to remember just what social care workers contribute to society.