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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

How a resourceful care home is coping with the lockdown

llanblogger special report

* Above and below: residents enjoy a lockdown garden party.

* Time to be pampered.

* Resident Enas has her first face mask applied at the age of 99.

* Care assistant Afona does a resident's hair. 

* Reminiscence time with Fiona Collins (left).

* (Above and below) members of the gardening club at work. 

* Residents enjoy an afternoon movie. 

All pictures supplied by Bethan Mascarenhas to llanblogger

The owner of a Llangollen care home has revealed the novel ways staff and residents have been coping with the coronavirus lockdown.

Bethan Mascarenhas, who runs The Old Vicarage, says she and her team had been preparing for the Covid-19 crisis since last month.

And she highlighted some of the inventive ways they have been beating the stay-at-home boredom.

Bethan, who took over the home with her brother Richard in 2018, is a firm believer in offering an ambitious package of initiatives to help keep elderly residents active and feel part of the daily life of the town.

So when the coronavirus scare struck The Old Vicarage was ready to meet the challenge of enforced isolation.

Bethan said: “We’ve been very well prepared for this, we started planning in early February getting supplies in like alcohol hand gels, hand soaps and extra personal protection equipment (PPE) supplies.

“We’ve tried to be as proactive as we can to safeguard the residents, so that we don’t have stress or worry about staffing or supplies.

“I did a Facebook call-out for staff and volunteers which received an overwhelming amount of replies.

“We’ve even got two student nurses working alongside us, as well as Fiona Collins, the Welsh Learner of the Year in 2019, who had been doing regular story-telling sessions for us before all this started.

“She has come on board full time to help with activities and a local chef is helping us in the kitchen.”

Bethan added: “As a home we practice good infection control and we put firm measures in place for visiting. But to counteract that we got an iPad to set up a Facebook page and Skype on it, so that everyone can talk and see what we’re all up to.

“The main thing in all of this is to keep a business-as-usual approach. I held a meeting with all of the residents to explain the situation and they seemed very accepting of the circumstances but were very keen to continue with our activities where we could.

“And they still wanted to continue to have a good quality of life and that comes from being together doing fun things - so we’ve been doing lots to take everyone’s minds off things, to keep morale high.

Revealing some of the ways The Old Vicarage team has been keeping spirits up, Bethan said: “There are pamper days with face masks and cocktails, garden parties, a gardening club to prepare the garden for summer, we’ve made our own in house cinema for movie afternoons, as well as reminiscence projects with Fiona Collins.

“We’re really lucky to have such a wonderful care team who are so dedicated, some have decided not to take holidays so they can stay and support us at this time.

“People have stayed longer at work so they can chat to residents as they aren’t having as many family visits and one member of staff is coming in specially to do everyone’s hair as our hairdresser has had to stop coming and it’s important for everyone to continue to look their best.

“At this time for us it is about balance, ensuring that people are safe but also knowing that they can continue to have a good quality of life.

“We understand that it can be distressing for people not to see their families at this time, so we’ve put a policy in place, as recommended by the Care Inspectorate, that a family member is able to visit that person in their room with the right safety measures in place.

“All of our family members are staying away at this time but it’s nice to know that the option is there if they find it too distressing.

“However, we’ve been doing lots of Skype sessions with family members and letter writing to keep in touch.

“The residents have commented on how well the community has been working together in this difficult time, likening it to wartime when they saw huge community efforts.

“They’d like to thank all of the people working so hard to keep our supplies coming in and also those in the health and social sectors working tirelessly to make sure everyone is safe and well at this time.

“We took part in the Clap for Carers, it was so nice to hear the appreciation for those who are putting their all into this. We are very proud of our care team, local community and of all the key workers working so hard for us all.”

ON PPE supplies provided by the Welsh Government Bethan explained: “They will only give it out if someone is symptomatic but they are very limited with supplies at present.”

She added: “I’m really keen on getting the word out there that it should be a normal time within a care home.

“I think people are going to ground and encouraging isolation, which isn’t right. When asked, my residents have said they’d rather take the risk than be miserable for the next few months.

“They are aware they need to make the most of their time moving forward, so complete isolation wouldn’t make sense - unless someone has symptoms of course.

“I’d like to show other homes that it’s fine to be having fun, in fact it’s really needed at this time.”

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