We have entered the month of December and the festive season has started. We may all this year feel that these feasts are not really wanted with many saying that they are not in the mood. However the reality is that everyone needs to a break from the doom and gloom of COVID statistics heard every day, or of hearing about yet another death. It is festivities like Christmas that brings hope for better days.
When you work in a Care Home you cannot not feel the toll that this year has brought both on the residents you care for and the staff who work here. We passed through a whole journey of total lock down to partial lock down and the implementation of safety measures. We learnt to work and operate in ways we never knew we could have worked. Along the way we laughed together, we cried and we worried. There was not one day this year, when we did not think or feel COVID. We had to adapt, and with us our residents. Life in a care home is about community and it is the community which on one part got weaker due to isolation but also got stronger as people thrived and bonded together to survive.
One of the biggest issues which both residents and relatives struggled with was communication this year. When you cannot visit your partner, mum or dad you need to trust that they are being cared for well. Relatives have to believe that the people caring for them will leave them short of nothing and will be there for them in their every need. They wonder if they are eating well, if they are lonely or if they are upset. If your mum suffers from dementia, you may worry if she is being understood by the caregivers, and whether she still remembers you as her daughter. These are all strong feelings we deal with every day. Separation from a loved one is hard and it is hard for families to feel reassured when they are not there physically confirming what you are saying.
At Simblija Care Home we recognized that communication had become more important than ever before, and once the relatives could not physically be with their loved ones, we wanted to create an atmosphere where they could speak to them safely but at the same time with dignity and privacy. So we put together a purposely designated room which we designed the highest safety standards and specificiations which above all reflected coziness and warmth. Although ceiling high persepx separates the relatives from their loved ones, microphones put in the room allow both parties to communicate freely without the use of phones or tablets. This made communicating with elderly who have cognitive impairment or hearing sensory loss so much better and dignified. An encounter which was once cold and in a way dreaded, because of it being so impersonal, has now become something both residents and relatives look forward to. They are feeling the humane aspect again and that their needs are being dealt with in a dignified manner as conversations, above all, remain private and not strained. Relatives and residents part with a good feeling, anticipating their next visit together.
I think that COVID has taken a lot from us but it has also taught us a lot. Just like there has been a lot of fear and scaremongering instilled by ignorance when in the past other viruses came to light, COVID is no different. We however cannot hide behind COV to give any lesser care or attention to our residents. We cannot use it as an excuse to just push rules and regulations at people without looking at the humane part and the care part which is why residents come to us in the first place. We must be careful that we do not use this virus as an excuse to abuse of our position as care givers by just giving orders and not looking at the consequences that they are having. If we do this then we are really not worth being called caregivers and we are just custodians. Let us still make this Christmas a good one to remember for all those elderly presently in care by giving attention to the humane, by really caring for their mental as well as their physical well-being, and seeking to make this Christmas as special as possible, whilst also keeping everyone safe.