‘It was a good few weeks ago when the Governor phoned me,’ said Dr Fleming.
‘He said he wanted to ask me a question and I genuinely thought it would be about visiting at Christmas.’
Sir Ian asked if she would accept an MBE for services to Guernsey’s residential care during the pandemic.
‘I didn’t expect it in the slightest. It couldn’t be further from what I thought it would be.
‘For me it’s about all the people who work in all the care homes across the island, everyone here, and the people who support us. Every single person who works in the island’s homes works so hard.’
With more than 35 years’ experience, registered nurse Dr Fleming’s role focuses on older adults and people with mental health difficulties.
‘As a nurse, when things need doing you just get on and do it.’
While continuing her duties at St John’s, she led a health care team as early Covid-19 cases appeared in a care home, and standardised best practice across the residential care sector.
‘I was running the home here, but I was asked by Health to coordinate the care home response island-wide. It was very important that the processes and procedures were the same throughout.’
It was exceptionally hard for care home staff during Covid.
‘We were having daily meetings on Teams. For probably about eight weeks we were flat out.’
To protect home residents, she led an initiative to ensure all hospital patients were tested for Covid-19 on discharge, prior to admission into homes.
‘Even now we have weekly briefings with all the staff – in lockdown it was daily – to reinforce the messages to wash hands, and social distance etc. I still keep reinforcing it and say I’m sorry I sound like a broken record. But everyone was straight on it.’
To combat staff shortages, she launched a campaign to recruit former care staff.
‘Over Easter weekend my team and I interviewed a whole load of people and the response was amazing.’
Despite shortages, personal protective equipment was sourced and distributed island-wide.
‘We had been buying PPE earlier in the year and all the care homes linked with HSC. We had an extremely generous and kind donation in excess of 30,000 masks.
‘Once they got more supplies, stores would prioritise giving masks to us, even the hospital was in short supply for a time.’
Residents stayed connected to loved ones through iPads distributed through homes, as Dr Fleming also worked to protect the mental health of residents, families, staff and nurses.