A sudden change of pace
When the pandemic first hit and we began to see stories on the news about coronavirus spreading, it didn’t feel like reality until the lockdown happened.
Overnight, everyone’s lives changed. It felt scary, especially so for staff in our care homes who provide 24 hour support to people with learning disabilities. Our residents would continue to need us every day – but what could we do? How could we stick to social distancing when some residents need support with personal care?
Our priority was keeping everyone safe and protected, but this was challenging. Residents found it hard to understand why they couldn’t do the things they would normally do when the world through the window looked the same as always.
Routine had been lost – something which is so important to people with a learning disability – so we had to adapt and think of new ways to keep our residents stimulated and happy.
Crafting positive solutions
In an effort to help everyone understand what coronavirus was, we got creative. Using arts and crafts we made signs to remind everyone to wash their hands and keep to social distancing rules. Making the residents a part of the process helped them understand the rules.
The entire house pulled together to keep spirits high and create new routine for everyone. The house turned in to a festival of arts - the residents and staff created a happy wall, they joined the rest of the world in showing their love and appreciation to NHS staff, creating rainbows and putting them in the windows of the home. Colour began to fill the house!
As lockdown continued, the residents adapted to this new way of life - gardening, long walks and exercise helped keep everyone motivated. They hosted singing sessions, baked and even created their very own ice-cream parlour.
All staff wear full PPE every day and we make reasonable adjustments where necessary. It’s such an unusual time, but we need to show the people we support that we are there for them no matter what and continue to find ways to adapt.
The pandemic has brought many challenges but it’s not all been bad. Although the residents have always lived in a shared environment, there wasn’t much social interaction in the communal area before the lockdown. Now they are interacting as a group, so they’re much more sociable.
A good call
In January, we received a phone call to tell us all staff and residents would be offered the vaccine. This was such an exciting moment – it felt like there was light at the end of tunnel!
The whole process was so straight forward. Nurses came to the home and the residents were all made to feel relaxed. Everyone was nervous about having the jab, but after a doctor explained everything simply to them, they felt assured and comfortable.
The residents all sat in the lounge, they talked to each other and it was over in no time. Allowing them to have the vaccine in their own surroundings made things easier for all of us.
As a manager overseeing various services, I’m normally office based, so being able to get out and about more and see the faces of the people we support has been really satisfying. I will definitely continue doing that if and when the world returns to normal – whatever normal is now.