A SOMERSET councillor has decided to swap paperwork for PPE and retrain as a carer during the coronavirus crisis.

Councillor Mark Keating currently serves as vice-chairman of Somerset County Council, and has represented the Coker division for the ruling Conservative group since 2017.

Mr Keating – who resides in Haselbury Plucknett near Crewkerne – announced on his official Twitter feed on Friday (April 3) that he would be retraining as a full-time personal care assistant.

He will be based at the Acacia House care home in Yeovil, which the council has recently reopened to provide more bed capacity and take the pressure off the town’s acute hospital.

Mr Keating tweeted: “I start my training on Monday to work full time as a personal care assistant in the re-opening Acacia House care home in Yeovil during the Covid-19 epidemic.”

Mr Keating will continue to help his constituents with casework and other matters, and will continue to attend council meetings virtually once the necessary technology is in place.

Yeovil MP Marcus Fysh was one of several praising Mr Keating’s decision, tweeting simply: “Well done”.

In addition to Acacia House, the county council is bringing Popham Court care home in Wellington back into use to take the pressure off the nearby Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton.

The council has been retraining many of its staff to work in care, and has appealed for more people to either come forward to retrain or to come out of retirement if they worked previously in the care sector.

The following roles are being sought as a matter of urgency:

Care home workers who can assist with personal care

Nurses who can oversee care plans

Those who can provide domestic support (e.g. cleaning, preparing meals)

Gardeners and property maintenance

Anyone who thinks they may be able to help should call 0300 123 2224.