BEFORE the most recent Covid-19 restrictions, one nursing home had come up with a creative way of tackling the issue of social distancing for both residents and visitors.
Teresa O’Donovan, the activities co-ordinator at Belgooly’s Cramers Court Nursing Home, said it has been difficult for their residents and their loved ones with visitor restrictions in place in recent weeks. ‘We had to find new ways of doing things and communicating with each other and making sure social distancing was being adhered to,’ said Teresa.
‘We came up with Contact Free Tea for Two, whereby we set up a table outside the window for the visitors and we brought down the resident to sit inside the pane of glass. We even had matching chairs and tables so they could actually have tea together without being in contact. The feedback was fantastic.’
Teresa said the visitors would ring in advance and book a time slot for the visit.
Mother’s Day recently was particularly challenging for some people, she said.
‘We had so many phone calls and Skype calls, it was unbelievable, but also visitors got to come to the window and wave and say hello from outside. We asked visitors to come with signs for their loved ones. It was tough and a lot of tears were shed, to be fair.’
Teresa and the residents even made their own videos about social distancing which they have posted on their Facebook page, which has had over 15,000 hits so far.
‘What we are saying to them at the moment is that we can’t give them hugs, but people can give their video ‘hits’ and ‘likes’ instead – it’s like a voucher system – and the residents have got quite interested in it.’
She said that everyone, including the residents, are being so careful about social distancing amid the crisis, but they are also careful about avoiding social isolation, if this goes on long-term.
‘We are decorating indoors at the moment and we got the residents to vote for what they would like to see changed internally in the nursing home,’ said Teresa.
‘So we are naming the different corridors and decorating them appropriately and they are quite involved in this. They can see a goal at the end.’
Children from the Bright Sparks playschool in Riverstick are also writing cards and letters and post a few every week to the residents as part of a long-term programme, already in place.