As with many care homes, as well as other businesses, we have faced some significant changes over the last year or two due to the Covid-19 pandemic. While we have tried to keep things as ‘normal’ as possible, there have had to be some changes to a lot of our working practices, with the emphasis on safety. Like many homes, we have had confirmed cases of Covid-19 with both residents and staff, but we are lucky to be able to say that these have not been as significant as some, and we have always taken immediate action to try and prevent this being spread to others.
One of the biggest changes to our daily life is the activities we provide for our residents. We have always strived to provide meaningful activities to all of those in our care, regardless of their health conditions. We feel that everyone deserves stimulation and activities that are related to their own interests and hobbies, but this became more tricky with the rules on social distancing, and the aim of reducing infection rates.
Where we would usually have a range of group activities taking place in one of our communal areas, these have been replaced by either smaller groups that are socially distanced, or more 1:1 activities within individual bedrooms or small areas. We have made more extensive use of technology to aid in our activities, with tablets and TVs being used to show performances, sporting events, and other events of interest to our residents.
Another big change has been the reduced levels of visitors coming into our home. While we are usually happy to welcome one and all into our homes, this was not permitted for a period of a few months early in 2020, and while we can now have visitors come in, we still have to limit numbers to keep all safe. Because of this, we have used more technology to replace some of these visits, so telephone and video calls have been much more widely-used than they were before the onset of the pandemic.
Some of the more routine interactions we would usually have have also been replaced with video calls, so we can now use video calls for care plan reviews with families, as well as reviews with other healthcare professionals, included Continuing Healthcare and GPs. This means that we can continue to ensure all of our residents are receiving the appropriate type of care, without having to wait for others to be able to physically visit. This coupled with the rollout of our ‘Family Portal’ means that families can be kept up to date with the day-to-day care and activities of their loved ones, and replaces the conversations that would usually happen during a physical visit.
We would usually hold various events during the year within the home, such as a Christmas party for our residents and their families, and these have obviously had to be scaled back to ensure safety. We have still held events for our residents, and have then been able to livestream these to families should they wish to ‘virtually’ attend. While we appreciate that this isn’t the same as being there in person, this does at least allow families to experience the atmosphere of the event.
We also often use local musicians and groups to come and provide some entertainment for our residents, and we have still managed to do this when able by having them play outside with the doors and windows open so residents can hear them. We also have had musicians play through video calls, which could then be streamed to residents either in communal areas or in their bedrooms, so they can still enjoy it.
We can all agree that the safety of our residents is of the highest priority, and while the adjustments we have had to make during the pandemic have been less than ideal, we are looking forward to things going back to ‘normal’ when it is safe to do so. Some of the changes we have made will likely remain after the end of the pandemic, such as video calling, but we happily welcome back all of our regular visitors and guests as soon as we feel it is safe to do so.