I can not lie and say that it has not had a negative impact on some residents lives, but in a week residents (and staff) have got used to them. The sad fact remains though that for some of our most vulnerable residents, by wearing facemasks our ability to communicate, calm and reassure has been reduced. But, I remain committed to ensuring their safety and the safety of our staff.
Perhaps the weather improving has also helped, but in the last seven days smiles have returned on the faces of residents. The garden is being loved by all, and earlier in the week two of our male residents had the most in-depth chat about how old they both were (they were both out by about 20 years) and how they used to like paddling in a stream. Both of these residents don't normally have long conversations with each other, perhaps it was because we were wearing masks and one in particular struggles to hear through our masks, but it was a special moment to see new friendships being forged - resilience. Two residents in particular are making massive improvements in their strength and we even did some ballet based bar moves a few days ago.
Tomorrow is VE Day and we have bunting ready and lots of fun activities planned, including a zoom call with families.
In the meantime to give you some behind the scenes challenges.... The nasal strips on the facemasks we use have been breaking down and the fibres go up our noses and in our mouths. The facemasks have been purchased from the government recommended suppliers. We received 300 from the National Supply Disruption Service and I purchased almost 2000 more. At the weekend I noticed that every single box has a sticker over the best before date - now 2021, underneath it is 2016. Over the weekend I made many calls, sent many emails. A senior Doctor called me from the Bucks Protection Health team, he advised that as the masks were intended for short term single use (which PHE are telling all providers to use them for a full session as there is not enough stock in the system) this is why in part the masks are failing, but he encouraged me to raise this issue. As an aside he advised that the county has just received 600,000 masks that all need to be returned as they are not fit for purpose.
I then spoke to the National Supply Disruption Line they told me that they were just a supplier and I had to call CPC but they had no telephone number for them or email address and could not tell me how to contact CPC. I then spoke to Countrywide Healthcare who provided the masks I purchased, they were helpful but told me the Department of Health and told me that they had re-certified the masks and I had to contact them. I can not get hold of anyone from Department of Health, and the HSE I have emailed but have had no reply.
I contacted Deprivation of Liberty team and Safeguarding team about the long term implications of use of facemasks on residents mental health, but to stress, I remain committed to following PHE advice. They both advise that in relation to facemasks PHE advice overrides any other legislation, t
In terms of future supply, I am continuing to try to source more APPROVED 11R masks which is proving challenging. We probably get 30 emails a day trying to sell us PPE, most of the masks are not approved, the latest I received 10 minutes ago - one 11R mask is now £2.28 each, before the pandemic they were less than 20p.
If you have read to the end of this well done! I am back to the home later this afternoon and evening. I will be smiling (behind my mask).