Despite media focus on fears for the elderly and those in Care Homes, there is another side to the story. Susan Blacklock has seen bunting, fairy lights, positive acceptance and ‘stern stuff’.
Coronovirus has created a level of fear amongst all sections of the community. Maybe more so in those classified ‘At risk’—particularly in the over 70 age group with underlying health issues.
The Government focus was initially on supporting the NHS and very much later, focus is now on Care Homes. The news stories are worrying in that one third of Care Homes have been affected by the virus.
However, the other side of this is that two thirds of homes have been successful in keeping the virus at bay. The majority of homes have been resourceful and proactive in dealing with this new threat.
This should be celebrated. I would hope that this provides some reassurance to those people who may need the help a care home can give them.
Care Home staff have to be inventive in the care we provide. In addition to many other essential caring attributes, to have a positive disposition is important and no more so than during this crisis.
We contend with winter infections and viruses and generally manage to contain them. Covid-19 has amplified our need to be ever vigilant.
I think Bymead staff hear our mantra of ‘Wash your hands. Do not touch your face’ in their sleep!
Bymead closed its doors early in this growing pandemic to all but medical staff and manager, Amy Blacklock, is steadfast that anyone moving into Bymead then and now is Covid-19 negative.
The hospital staff struggled with this concept in the first weeks and to some extent they still do but we realised it was and remains the only way, during this time of unknown unknowns, to manage the situation.
To this day we have had a few rocky moments as the Covid symptom list grows ever longer and obtaining tests for residents is a challenge but we remain clear of the virus.
Amy and our staff have been determined to keep everyone safe, putting every effort into ensuring this remains the case.
We talked to the residents about how they would feel not seeing their relatives for the foreseeable future. They unanimously agreed that their biggest fear was the virus coming into the home. They wanted to remain safe and certainly wanted their relatives to remain safe. We explained the infection control measures we needed to take at that time and indeed the ongoing changes in these measures.
Since those early days, it seems so long ago, we have had many chats. During one recent afternoon chat the discussion turned to gradually opening the home again to visitors.
The residents’ general comment was that they felt safe and rather we didn’t open the home just yet. That gave us a little boost to think that we had been able to fill the gap their relatives had left, even for a short time.
The people in Bymead’s community amaze me with their philosophical acceptance.
I think this would be true of most people living in care home communities at this time. Certainly this generation, who lived through VE day all those years ago are made of stern stuff!
We felt it was important to keep safe but ignore the frequent news bulletins and enjoy this time. Bymead staff have been inventive with the activities, events and pastimes enjoyed.
We have celebrated a virtual 100th birthday party with lots of balloons and confetti. The relatives joined in through the magic of a skype call but we did not skimp on the champagne and cake.
From Easter Ducklings, a Spring Ball through to VE day we have enjoyed every moment.
Our Spring Ball was a last minute thought but turned into an extravaganza of more balloons, bunting with fairy lights to make it that extra bit special followed by a delicious, elegant high tea.
We celebrated VE Day with music, singing and mojitos provided by The Dark Bear from Bridport.
We have recorded all the good times and made a compilation video for family and friends.
During our ‘lockdown’ we have seen many positives. Particularly, new friendships have formed within the home. Residents have had the time to develop their ties with each other.
It is true that it is never too late to find a new friend.