15 Apr The Somerset Care Centre – one year on….
The Somerset Care Centre – one year on….
On the ninth of March 2020, we opened our doors to admit our first residents into our beautiful new Care Centre. Two weeks later, we closed our doors; a protective measure prior to what would become a national lockdown. We had a new Care Centre, new staff, new residents…. and a new virus.
We had to quickly adjust all of our ideas and plans – and focus on learning everything we could to protect our staff and protect our precious residents. We struggled with the fear that one of us may “bring it in”, and expose our vulnerable residents. And we struggled with the fear that we may “take it home”, and endanger our families. Pictures emerged from overseas nursing homes devastated by COVID-19 – and we feared that we would be next.
In the first wave, one of our residents was diagnosed positive for SARS-CoV-2 during a routine test when she was admitted to hospital, but she thankfully remained asymptomatic. A second resident contracted COVID during the second wave. We nursed her in the Care Centre and she has recovered completely. I believe the factors that contributed to our low rate of infection – and no spread – is due to three main factors:
- The physical building: the spacious design of the Care Centre, the fact that each resident has a private room and bathroom, the excellent ventilation system, access to fresh air;
- The protocols, training and PPE: the CPOA and The Somerset trustees ensured we had adequate supply of PPE, and guidelines to operate safely;
- The people: I am incredibly proud of how my team took personal responsibility, worked sacrificially and diligently applied protocols.
While so many things were changing, we fought to keep our mission and core values at the heart of everything we did: Providing quality care and promoting quality of life. One of our biggest challenges was to maintain a home-like atmosphere whilst ramping up our infection control practices – and promoting family involvement and interaction when we could not allow visiting. We had to be very creative as we strove to protect both the physical and emotional wellbeing of our residents. We arranged lockdown birthdays; overseas families sent video messages. We facilitated WhatsApp calls and video calls, window visits – and as soon as we could, we arranged safe visiting.
We currently have eleven residents in the Care Centre; four admitted from The Somerset, and seven from outside. Our residents have a variety of medical conditions and we have provided frail care, memory care and palliative care: Sadly, we lost two of our precious residents. But we have had victories too: A 92-year-old lady came to us bedbound and unable to do anything for herself after a fall resulted in a fractured hip. Under the restorative, function-focused care of our care workers, she improved to the point where she could be discharged back home.
The Somerset Care Centre has also served the needs of the residents of The Somerset. This year, nine village residents have made use of the sickbay facilities in the Care Centre – and the clinic has provided a range of services from routine blood pressure measurement to treating dog bite wounds. An area of our work that has increased during the past year is the coordination and provision of various personal and homecare support services. We are successfully assisting and enabling people to remain in their homes, and are hoping to increase this aspect of our work in the year ahead.
It has been one of my biggest joys this year to see how village residents have contributed to the lives of the residents of the Care Centre. Various individuals have organized and participated in tea parties, a Christmas carol service (complete with Father Christmas and gifts), a Valentine’s Day tea and bingo morning, and a “Music and Manicures” afternoon. The garden club planted trees outside the Care Centre, and one of The Somerset residents generously donated a Christmas party for the Care Centre staff.
We are so thankful!
To read more about The Somerset’s Nursing Manager – Sister Erika Janutsch and her team, click here.