Friday, April 24, 2020

Part of the Community

We have always felt like part of the community, but during lockdown many of the community based activities have had to stop; weekly school children visiting, monthly coffee mornings, hymns and prayers, holy communion, trips to the coffee shop.  Sadly they have had to stop to ensure the safety of our residents and staff.

But in the last few weeks we have been so grateful for the wonderful messages, and gifts.  Co-op have sent pastries and Costa sent drinks for the staff, laundry bags have been made for staff.  We received extra visors donated by a local company.  Children have written to residents or sent pictures.  And we have been visited by a fancy dress bumble bee, T-Rex and a cowboy.  But last night was something else...   The photo is what appeared outside yesterday afternoon.   And then our wonderful local neighbours gave us a round of applause at 8pm, a video was sent to me which I forwarded to all staff.  The boost to morale, and the overwhelming gratitude from the staff was enormous.  Whoever was behind this, thank you.

The residents have had a busy and happy week.  Although there are some necessary routines we always strive to allow the residents to make as many decisions as possible, it is their home more than the staff’s workplace.  In this respect the menu last week was chosen by a group of the residents... prawns and black pudding featured heavily (not in the same meal),  Zoom Bingo went well, Pe learnt some new rhymes, Pa’s hair has grown so she has been wearing her hair in a bun, earlier this week she was sat quietly plaiting her own hair “ready for school” she said to me, she was very animated and it was lovely to see her reliving a happy memory.

Like anyone with a garden, we have been enjoying the glorious weather and all residents have spent time in the garden.  We now have a knitting group too, I am looking forward to see how far they have got with their knitting of squares for the blanket that the group of residents are making.

We continue to train and communicate procedural changes to the team, particularly in relation  to Covid 19 and the ever changing PHE and NHS guidelines.  All staff have their temperature checked as soon as they enter the building and all staff change into work clothes as soon as they arrive at work, and change before leaving.  The issue of facemasks continues to evolve.   Currently any staff are able to wear face masks at any time if they wish, but this is not mandatory.  If we have any symptomatic residents, full PPE will be used, which will include facemasks.   The guidance from PHE for non symptomatic residents in a care home is unclear.  I have risk assessed the need for face masks and at the current time I feel that staff wearing facemasks at all times would have a significantly detrimental effect on the wellbeing of most, if not all, residents.   For those residents with hearing loss they will struggle to understand, those residents with moderate to advanced dementia are unlikely to understand the reason for the masks and may well be frightened (and living with dementia this fear may be felt every time they see a masked face).  
At the moment we are able to keep our residents calm and content, of course they miss their loved ones, but other than that, things are normal.   If we were to wear masks at all times now, I also have to factor in the very real risk of not being able to get the numbers of additional masks we would require if we were to have an outbreak and had been using masks for a number of weeks  or even months.

Sadly the risk from Covid 19 is likely to remain for some time, my plans have to take into account the long term health of our residents and staff, and that always includes their wellbeing and mental health as well as physical health.


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