A friend of mine told me about this TV drama movie starring the brilliant Jodie Comer of ‘Killing Eve’ fame. All I knew was that it was about a Care Home during the pandemic but with her involved I thought it would probably be very good. She has a trusted record for really getting into character and this topic was close to my heart as I used to work through weekends and holidays in a Care Home.
‘Help!’ is the story of a woman looking for a job and managing to get one working for a Care Home. She was a natural with the residents, who happened to include Tony, a character with dementia played by Stephen Graham (White House Farm).
Jodie said in an interview that she was looking for a chance to work with Stephen and they were both really pleased to be able to keep their Liverpudlian accents whilst in these roles. Stephen’s character had early onset dementia and so was often confused about whether or not his mother was alive. He spent lots of time trying to escape the Home and get back to the home he used to share with her. Meanwhile, covid was starting to show up on the news and Care Homes started scrabbling around for basic protection. This showed how creative care workers had to be as there was a widespread shortage of PPE. Wearing builders’ masks and bin bags, carers had to do their best to carry on looking after residents without safety measures to prevent them from catching this awful bug.
Jodie’s character had a difficult family and really needed this job but didn’t expect to find herself working alone one evening. Her boss was at home ill and her other colleague didn’t show up for the night shift. Struggling to manage a Covid patient, she roped Tony in to help her.
Some close camera work followed her emotional rollercoaster as she did her best to try and get an ambulance and continuously had NHS 111 on speakerphone in her pocket while she looked after residents, desperate for assistance. Her family had preferred that she didn’t work in care but it was clear that this was where she belonged.
Covering the crisis in care very realistically, this TV drama is 98 minutes long and very powerful. It reminds us how Covid patients in hospitals were offloaded onto Care Homes and left to transmit the disease in a setting where there was little defence. Residents were not allowed to have visitors and some relatives came to speak to them through the windows. The dire situation was worsened as staff became ill and staff shortages increased many times over.
Jodie and Stephen did a great job of portraying characters who provided an insight into this very recent, very troubling period. Not only did I feel the acting was magnificent but it also made me feel so sad that so many families had to go through such traumatic times.
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