When life gives you lemons...

A local care home manager has written a blog post about how they have adapted in these unprecedented times.
Lady laughing with an older lady

At [our] Nursing Home we miss the time when family and friends of our residents could come and go into our lovely nursing home.

Our lounge was always full of residents and visitors having tea and cake, you would have thought there was a party every day. The regular visitors who previously did not know one another became good friends as everyone spent time together while visiting their loved ones. Sometimes you could even have a free lunch with your loved one. Visitors also enjoyed the entertainment arranged for the residents.

They were able to chat with staff and got to know the people looking after their loved ones.  Special events were celebrated together, and they became part of our family. They were able to see first-hand how we care for their loved one. They would see a happy, well cared for, well-dressed relative with a freshly shaved face every day or a well-tended hairdo. While they were here, they could talk to us straightaway about any concerns and these were then solved immediately.

Then suddenly all visits to care homes were banned due to coronavirus restrictions and all this joy was taken away from all of us.

During the summer we were fortunate to be able to receive visitors in our garden, but it wasn’t really the same as before.

We have not been able to build the same relationships with our relatives as before. It has been difficult building trust with new residents’ families. This is not at all surprising as these relatives have never been able to see what the building looks like inside and to experience the ambiance. They have not seen all the happy faces they pass in the corridors or hear all the laughter and smell the delicious food. We also realised very soon how the lack of communication impacts on relationships.

So now these are the lemons life has dealt us and at [this care home] we will always make lemonade!

In this situation we have taken some love and creativity as our metaphorical sugar and water to add to these “lemons”. We have implemented the following:

All relatives receive weekly phone calls to touch base. We discuss the resident’s current condition and all we are doing to make them happy and content. This also gives the relative the opportunity to raise any concerns. This can then be talked out and dealt with straightaway.

We have allocated extra staff to help with assisting residents with phone calls. The family can call on the nursing home’s phone and we then transfer the call to a portable phone which is then taken to the resident. Staff sometimes need to assist the resident by holding the phone. At first, we were concerned that the use of these phones could pose an infection risk, but we have come up with the idea to wrap the phone in cling film. Every phone gets wiped thoroughly with disinfectant and then wrapped in cling film before every phone call. We purchased tablets to enable residents to have video calls with their family and friends.

Regular contact with family and friends is important to the mental health of our residents.

As these are now limited, we have also increased our activities to further improve the residents’ mental health.  We have additional activity staff who visits every resident in their room and spend time with them. They take the “trolley of fun” around the home and residents can choose if they want to do crossword games, try on jewellery, page through magazines, listen to music, browse the internet on our tablet or just have a chat and a cup of tea or coffee. We bought a special cage with wheels so our budgies, Cyril and Wally, can visit the residents in their rooms. They also enjoy occasional visits from Bonnie the dog. Residents who are able to, still spend time in the lounge and enjoy all our regular activities. Trained staff provide aromatherapy, manicures and do hand massaging.

Although we have implemented all these measures for the happiness of our residents, we still feel that receiving visits from family would improve it.  So, after some brainstorming, our proprietor was able to build a Covid-Secure Visiting Pod in our dining room. It is equipped with a microphone, so visitors can hear their loved one clearly. We have already received very good feedback from visitors using the pod and can happily recommend the use of these pods.

So, for the duration of the pandemic we will continue to do all we can for our residents as well as their families and friends. It is important to stay positive in these difficult times. No matter how many “lemons” life deals one with, “making lemonade” will always be easy as long as everyone works together with positive attitudes.

Read about what other care homes in Warwickshire have told us:

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