Monday, March 30, 2020

Drawing and Room Changes

Yesterday was another fun filled day.  Some of you had sent videos to show the residents, I can not thank you enough for these.  When I suggested that they were sent it I was worried it may upset some residents, infact this could not be further from the truth.  We are able to plug my phone into the large television screens and having the lounges filled with messages from family members really lifts everyones spirits.

We also received letters from some local children, and a reply was composed which has been posted today.  A friend of Lime Tree Court had suggested a You Tube channel of a children's illustrator (Rob Biddulph) who does easy to follow drawing sessions.  Without telling the residents what we were actually going to do (and what we were going to draw) we ventured into the dining room, I held the iPad and Sharon and four residents attempted to draw a sausage dog.....  I wish you all could have seen the fun we had, so much laughing and so much fun, the pictures are of the finished results.

Without visitors we are ensuring that we keep everyone's spirits lifted.  We are actively limiting the amount of time the news is on (whilst ensuring that residents who want to see the news see it during the day) and we have been enjoying "Are you being served" and when I left last night "Jane Eyre" was being enjoyed by all.

Sharon and I spent yesterday moving some residents rooms, some of this was necessary to meet residents changing needs in terms of mobility but it has meant that we have a spare room at the side of the house, should we need it for quarantine purposes.  I hope that this will not happen, but I need to prepare for every eventuality.

As mentioned before we have received our PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and have reviewed our infection control processes incase we have an outbreak.  I am committed to ensure the safety of residents and staff.  Support from Public Health England and our CCG (Clinical commissioning group) has been high and we will shortly receive a fully set up laptop for remote consultations with our GP (it has a camera functionality).  This will be welcome as we no longer have a weekly GP visit (although he is available weekly for phone consultations).  These laptops are being provided fully configured with an NHS consulting system for communicating with medical professionals.  

The staff have been amazing but they are fully aware that if they have even the slightest symptoms they need to follow self isolation protocols.  In this respect I have ensured that we have staffing plans in place to cover any reduction in staff.

I am painfully aware that as you are unable to visit I am representing all of you,  rest assured that I take this role with the utmost seriousness.  Myself, Sharon, and all of the staff, are doing everything in our power to keep your loved ones safe.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

A normal day... according to the residents

Today's update is not from me.  It has been written by one of the carers.  She spoke to all the residents a couple of weeks ago about what a normal day is like for them.  She would like to stress that everything she has written is actually what the residents said to her.  I would like to thank all the residents who contributed to this, and also thank our resident writer and carer E.  So over to our residents.

As the bread toasts and the kettle boils, the house wakes from its sleep. The curtains are pulled open and the sun pours into the bedrooms and sitting rooms. Another day at LTC begins. 
After washing and dressing, we make our way to the sitting room and have our fill of coffee and toast. The TV is switched on and we watch the morning news whilst filling in the paper crossword.
Homer and Bart wake too and they stretch their legs above their heads to release the sleep from their bodies. Homer wanders down to the sitting room in search of a lap. After finding a knee and settling into comfort, he curls up and falls into a second slumber.
As the day carers arrive for a day’s work, they say “Good morning!” with smiles and enthusiasm. Soon they are running around, busy, but never too busy to offer a hand or to relieve our worries.
As more people awake and make their way into the sitting room, the space begins to fill with a quiet buzz of conversation.  The news reader talks of serious goings on in the world, but here, in our safe bubble, we feel protected and loved.
 “Six down, the clue is: relaxation, solace.” Comes a voice from across the room, she has the newspaper on her lap and chews the end of a pen deep in thought. After a lot of thought, we decide that the answer doesn’t exist and that it’s the newspaper that’s wrong, not us.
The activities lady arrives and pampers us with hand massages and paints our nails. Then, we all sit and try to piece together a jigsaw, the skyline of London gradually becoming more and more complete. It may only be 100 pieces, but we all cheer with pride as the last piece fits perfectly into place.
Outside, the fresh country air calls, so we wrap up in our winter finest and take a stroll to the church. The birds sing as we reminisce about the old days and we laugh as we remember amusing stories of our childhoods. 
We find the church peaceful. Apart from our voices echoing in the old building, it is quiet and comforting.
The bells chime, filling the room with a melodic reminder that lunch will soon be on the table, so we make our way home. 
We wait patiently in the dining room for our lunch, the aroma reaching us soon before the food does. 
Our lunches are laid out in front of us, and we accept the offer of salt and pepper. The food, as always, is delicious. And as we tuck into our roast chicken, Fred Astaire sings quietly in the background.
Soon, our plates are empty and our stomachs full. After sending our compliments to the chef we return to our armchairs, sleepy from the hearty meal. 
We spend the afternoon playing bingo, a game we realized, can get quite heated. The room fills with anticipation as our numbers are called out, staff and residents eager to win – (the prize is a cupcake, we decided.) 
Cups of tea and coffee are placed in front of us, “There’s a shot of vodka in that!” Jokes a carer with a grin.
We sit and sip our drinks, whilst Bradley Walsh asks another question on ‘The Chase’. We all take a guess, get it wrong, and laugh at how obvious it was.     
Alexa is called to attention; she plays us our favorite war time music and we all sing along. As staff and residents shake their tambourines and sway to the music, an infectious smile spreads across the room. We enjoy the way the merriment makes us feel happy inside. 
As I sit in my armchair, and doze in and out of an afternoon nap, I gaze into the garden. Memories of last years summer party brings a smile to my face. I remember children giggling as they danced and played.  I recall the fresh summer breeze and the way everyone seemed happy and contented. 
Following a supper of hot chocolate and lemon drizzle cake, the sitting room grows darker as the afternoon turns to evening. The curtains are closed, and the lights turned on, creating a warm and cozy ambience in the sitting rooms.
Gradually the room empties, as one by one we make our way to our bedrooms. With a “goodnight everyone,” a carer helps me to my room. I undress into my nightie and am tucked in under the soft duvet. 
“Good night, sleep well, I’ll see you in the morning,” she says with a warm smile, then she shuts of the light and gently closes the door.
As I lie comfortable in bed, and wait for sleep to take over, I remember the clue from the crossword: Relaxation, solace. And I realize now that the answer is obvious: Peace.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Wild Violets and Games of Catch

After the excitement of the weekend we have had a few lovely days.  Many residents have been enjoying the garden and Sharon organised an impromtu game of catch with some of the residents and carers yesterday (with very soft sponge balls).

June sent a message to all teenage girls which she asked that I share - it is about to go on the LTC Facebook page.

Food has arrived and our new contract is for future orders is in place.  Phew!

Everyone is loved, happy and content and safely cocooned in our special home.

Tomorrow I have a guest writer.... one of our wonderful carers has written "a day at LTC"   Which is comprised entirely of what the residents told her about living about LTC.  Watch this space.

Keep safe, stay at home and know that your loved ones are safe and happy

Sunday, March 22, 2020

You’ve missed a bit....

Today is Mother’s Day and I have just got home.

Everyone working today was determined to make the day special for everyone, we were well aware that for many of the residents this would be their first Mother’s Day not seeing their children.  In addition to the residents, two carers would not being seeing their children as they were doing long shifts and many of us were not able to see our Mums today.  So, I was determined to make the day as special as possible for everyone - residents and carers alike.

And wow, it was a great day.  It was bittersweet at times and their were many emotional moments.  All of the video messages that you had sent I had compiled into a 20 minute long video, we had messages, piano playing, trains, dogs, messages from abroad, village halls a horse in foal and it ended with a vicar saying prayers tailored specifically for our residents.  It was played many times throughout the day and every single resident was transfixed (particularly of the videos from children).   It really did bring so much pleasure.  Thank you.  At one point I looked around the lounge and J on side and D on the other side of L were holding hands together, supporting each other .  The home looks incredible with the many flowers which M spent a few hours arranging in vases of different shapes and sizes.

All cards were opened with the residents and are in their rooms or in the lounges.  The pots for the patio are wonderful and some are already in place (more about that later)...

Some of you who dropped things off in person were able to see your loved one through the windows and at times that was bittersweet, I know I was not alone fighting back tears, and I know for many of you it was emotional too.  Thank you for the tins of fruit and for the chocolates that you sent in.  After a few hours of excitement lunch was a little subdued if I am honest, for those who understand the current situation I think some realization set in about when they may next see you all.

The video messages were such a success that I would like to continue them.  Now I know how to use the video software and we have an easy way to show them on the TV screen please consider sending me a message and I will compile them every weekend (please limit to one a week ideally or my phone may blow up ;)

In the afternoon I decided that the lawn really needed mowing.  I started and then thought it was such a shame that the residents were not with me.  With a little gentle encouragement many residents came in the garden, wrapped up warm in shawls and blankets.  What a lovely afternoon.  They laughed at my bad mowing (“You’ve missed a bit....”), told me where to move the garden furniture and we

rearranged some of the pots, discussed the flowers and trees and spotted different birds.  They really really appreciated the spring sunshine and the mood lifted considerably.  Some residents had a manicure in the sun.

So all in all, we gave them the best day we possibly could, made even better by all of your wonderful support and the many gifts, cards, videos and FaceTime messages.

Tomorrow our new food supplier delivers our first food supply.... I have not had confirmation of the final order that I made over the phone but I have been told that anything I don’t want I can send back.  Luckily my husband spotted that I had ordered a lot of Angel Delight.  I was frustrated when he commented on this and told him “Yes, well we get through a lot of Angel Delight”. He’s an accountant and calmly pointed out that the 12 packets of angel delight in every flavor were in fact 12 lots of 90 packets of Angel Delight, enough to feed every resident angel delight for about 7 years.  I corrected that mistake but who knows what till turn up in the lorry tomorrow.

Happy Mother’s Day to you all.

Friday, March 20, 2020

We've got Masks and Food... send us more video messages

Just a quick update, the main bit of news is that after a stressful 24 hours we have sorted out our food supply issues.  A massive thanks to Creed food service.

The stock pile of Personal Protective Equipment is also being distributed and facemasks arrived yesterday.  

Everyone is well and the residents are happy and content.  What has made an enormous difference to lifting spirits is receiving the video messages for the residents.  We have been showing the residents and the smiles have been heartwarming.  Messages from granchildren or younger family members seem to go down particularly well.

So please keep sending them.

Thank you as always for your support.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Every Little Helps...

There was more a buzz in the air today, partly because everyone was downstairs having recovered from the sickness bug, perhaps it was because both myself and Sharon were at LTC together, perhaps it was just because all our residents were feeling much more like themselves.

I must start by saying everyone is well which is the most important thing.  As promised, Luna and Lottie came with me and both dogs always seem to lift everyone’s spirits.  Lottie does her normal sprint to the cat food and then goes forraging in the waste bins, which B,F and P did find amusing.  Luna takes a more leisurely approach.  She heads to whoever has a biscuit on their table, gazes at them and then slowly, ever so gently tries to steal a biscuit.  She then heads to see B who is partially sighted and she always spends more time with B just leaning against her and having some special time together.  Lottie heads for D for a cuddle.    After spending a few hours with the residents they spent a while on squirrel watch in the dining room (with the new bird feeder which was dropped off yesterday from by one residents family).   Dog news over!

In other news, P and J met near the stairs and discussed how P had an MBE and how J’s husband also had an MBE and a discussion ensued about meeting the Queen.  After tea I led a chair based exercise session to our hand picked play list, and sung along together.  We finished just in time to hear the school closure announcement.... which I am sure will impact many of our staff (although we fall into the bracket of emergency workers or whatever the title is, so staff should be able to keep children at school).

 I am conscious that it is Mother’s Day this weekend and in this respect I know that it may be difficult for a great many of you not being able to visit your family.  I will be there on Sunday, so I will report back on Sunday.    I am also going to try to encourage other staff members to write some of the updates, watch this space!

In this respect I had an idea this morning, Incase any of you were thinking of gifts for your family members...  I brought in today one of the posh plant magazines (Sarah Raven) - many of our residents enjoyed looking at the plants together and choosing some favorites.  I will get a list together, but I have a number of empty pots that need planting.  It would be lovely if any of you wanted to plant a pot and deliver it with a message for your loved one.  They could be lined up along the patio and I am sure everyone would enjoy seeing them come out to flower.  I am desperate to get the residents in the  garden as much a possible.  If you want to fill a pot, they are outside the front door.

Well I have written more than I planned.  In other news Sharon and I spent quite a while working out what to do with possible staffing shortages, that is work in progress.

And then there is Tesco’s.... “Every little helps”.... or not in our case.  We do two weekly shops, I do one online for the majority of our food via Tesco.  Sharon does the other later in the week.  Our meat is from the local butcher and dairy is from the milkman.  The weekly shop as you can imagine is large, we are feeding 20.  We get through a lot of tins of fruit, squash, pudding rice, biscuits etc etc.  And now we are limited to two of every item.  I have tried tweeting Tesco, I have tried calling.  I have tried everything.  If anyone has a friend in Tesco who may be able to help please let me know.  To actually do the shop in person (aside from the quantity issue and not being able to buy 8 tins of fruit, 8 packets of weetabix, 12 tubs of clover) takes over 2 hours, which in the current climate isn’t possible.  So, if any of you have clout with Tesco’s please let me know.  The other option is that I send my 16 year old to do the shopping.... sadly she won’t need the time to revise for her GCSE’s ;(

Right, I am going to end now.  Apologies for spelling mistakes.  Too tired to proof read right now.

As ever, know that everyone is well, loved and cared for.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

A moment of calm

So, a few months ago I thought I would start a blog on an anonymous basis about the challenges of owning a care home with the aim to be as honest as possible.  With the current challenges in relation to Covid19 this blog is going to take a different direction....  The link to this blog is today being sent to all the families of residents who live in my care home.

I had to take difficult decision to close to all visitors this morning, and I am hoping that by updating this blog at least a couple of times a week our residents family members will feel better connected to the what is happening at LTC.

It is worth saying that although this blog is no longer anonymous as you know who I am, I will not be sharing any resident specific information.  As this blog is public there will be no photos of residents, these will be sent separately.

LTC had a feeling of calm reflection today.  Obviously for the staff this was the start of a new normal - one with no visitors, and although many of the residents did not actually know what was different, they clearly knew something was different.  I ensured that I spent time with all the residents and for those who had the capacity to understand we spoke about how their loved ones would not be able to visit for a while.  Some of the residents had already been sent messages from family members, and so myself and other staff were able to read messages to them and assist with iPad replies.

I spent some time sorting through the infection control processes, I set up boxes in each bedroom containing all the relevant PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and ensured all carers were aware of the process.  You may be aware that there is a shortage of hand sanitizer, gloves and masks.  I am pleased to say we have plenty of gloves, and a guardian angel who has asked to remain anonymous kindly provided me with some masks for all the staff.  Hand sanitizers are out of stock but we are assured that Public Health England are on it....  Whilst sorting out the boxes some of the residents enjoyed counting to ten in French, German and a bit of Russian and Japanese.  We then had fun discussing whether President Mugabe is from Yorkshire (can you work out why he is??).  Resident N got it straight away and was giggling to herself.  Resident O was enjoying FaceTiming with her family in France and Resident J was delighted to receive a package from her family with a bird feeder for the dining room window (it is already set up).

Lunch was sausage plait and homemade coleslaw with Bakewell tart which everyone seemed to enjoy.

I then had a little bit of furniture moving around, do you approve of the new arrangement by the downstairs loo?  

In the afternoon some of the residents listened to the Government briefing. Things were rather quiet and subdued.  But things brightened up when I found a packet of After Eights in the outdoor office.    Later on I went to the surgery to pick up some residents prescriptions and saw the residents GP, and was able to have a quick catch up and check with I’m that our infection control process are correct..

All the residents and staff are well, long may it last.  I know I speak for all of the residents when I send you their love.  Stay safe..

PS. I was instructed that Lottie and Luna have to come tomorrow,it may be their last visit for a while, but I am hoping their visits will lift some spirits tomorrow.

An issue which can not be ignored - Social Care Reform

  A few weeks ago I was asked to join a panel discussion on Times Radio about social care reform and why it was needed.     Over the last 15...