Friday, May 1, 2020

Testing Times

The start of this week was glorious, in more ways than just the weather.  Residents and staff were used to a new normal, laughter and sunshine were abundant.  The weekend was relaxed yet busy.  One resident was busy gardening, some others were drawing (we love "Draw with Rob" on you tube), face times, and general quiet one on one chats between residents and staff.

Sadly behind the scenes things were about to change...  Guidance from PHE, NHS,, CQC is constant, if I take my eye off the ball for one day I have literally pages of guidance to read.   The guidance is being rewritten daily and there are no "version" numbers, and previous versions are deleted (read into that what you will).  Over the weekend I had a number of conversations with PHE about facemasks, PHE agreed the guidelines were inconsistent but advised in the near futures facemasks would need to be worn at all times to ensure the safety of our residents from Covid19 transmission from staff who may be asymptomatic.  On Monday, that guidance changed, previous versions of the guidance were deleted and PHE are now saying that the guidance has always been to wear facemasks.  

I want to make it very clear I understand that need for facemasks and keeping our residents safe is paramount, however when I questioned PHE about the impact for those living with dementia, they acknowledged that this has not been considered.

Our home is run like a family, the staff and residents feel like my family.  For someone living with dementia life in general is frightening, but we know the residents inside and out and we know how to reassure, and calm.  Many residents have significant sensory issues including lack of hearing.  On Tuesday afternoon their new normal changed again when we moved to wearing facemasks at all times.  I anticipated that this would unsettle residents, sadly I was right.  Wednesday was spent trying to reassure both staff and residents about how we would manage this new normal, with residents not being able to see our faces.  In addition to my concerns about resident wellbeing, that the rate we are going through masks mean we will have to ensure we can replenish supples...  It was a really tough day.  I cried on they way home.

Yesterday I was at my home.  I spent a long time on the phone to both Safeguarding and the DoLs (Deprivation of Liberty) teams raising concerns about how residents mental well-being has not been considered.  I am definitely not saying that we should stop wearing facemasks, but yet again this most vulnerable population are having their own wishes ignored and they are being dictated to.  We need to ensure that their whole health is considered, physical and mental.  I have also spoken to two companies who may be able to help with the production of clear facemaks (not visors, we already have them) where residents will be able to see our smiles, I have told them what we would love... you never know, I may have a future in product design.

Today is the first of the month, so it is day to run payroll.   I am back at the home tomorrow.  I have lots of ideas for activities that can be done despite facemasks, I will be back to smiling.  We are resilient, our residents are resilient we will get the laughter and sunshine back.

Forgot to talk about Testing......  This would have been the answer and could have avoided the need for facemasks if all staff and residents could be tested regularly.  
But great news was announced that all staff can get tested even if they are asymptomatic.  That is absolutely NOT the case, I also had calls with the testing teams finding out how we can arrange tests for staff and residents.  I was told "What the Government says and what is possible are not the same thing, the infrastructure is not available yet".    

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  Sun was streaming into the home last Wednesday.     The carers were busy (as always, there is never any down time when working in care).  ...