“It is almost impossible to underestimate the harm and mental anguish that barring entry to nursing, care and residential homes has caused to thousands of residents, their families and significant others. Such action also supports the dangerous narrative that elderly and vulnerable people matter less” (Anderson et al 2020)
Our elderly are paying the biggest price for this virus. They are paying tenfold for some people’s negligence and indifference towards the virus spread. Elderly are isolated in care homes or their own home. Residents in care homes cannot eat together and enjoy outside activities. They speak to their loved ones by appointment, and even then behind glass doors. Some, spend days on end, on their own in their rooms, because they are afraid. When you work with the elderly you really touch and see at first hand the hardship and suffering in all this virus has brought.
In care homes where our sole aim is to make the lives of the elderly better and care for their well-being, we mourn those who pass away. We fear every day that this virus enters and takes away one of our residents and if anyone doubts whether we ever get used to the loss, I can assure you that we don’t. Our staff do great sacrifices for the vulnerable they take care for, often at the cost of their personal lives. So while the rest of the country seems to act “normally”, life in care homes changed drastically for everyone. There are no half measures and no letting our guard down. If one had to evaluate quality of life by social gatherings and lack of isolation, then we are failing big time, because a lot of restrictions due to COVID brought just the latter. We see fear every day in the eyes of the elderly we care for, we also see loneliness and pain for a life which has changed overnight and which has taken away some quality of life to the years they have left. The years which were promised to be the “golden” years of their life.
With Christmas around the corner the vision gets bleaker, since residents are going to be kept away from their loved ones and normal family gatherings. They will not be around the table for the traditional family meal or to watch grandchildren opening presents. There are so many things that Christmas brings which we will also miss having in care homes this year. The carol singing by kids who visit from schools, the parties with relatives present, and concerts where the residents can enjoy a nice show. It will definitely be a different sort of Christmas.
However here at Simblija we are still going to try and give the residents a Christmas to remember. We have already put our thinking caps on to see what we can do, considering the restrictions we have in place, whilst keeping our residents safe. The difference between being in a Home to being alone at home is what living in a care home community is all about. Every single one of the staff want to make sure that every resident gets to enjoy the Christmas spirit and not encounter solitude. Our aim is that just like we managed to keep our elderly active during lockdown, so will we be keep them happy and engaged during Christmas.
We do not have a magic wand or a crystal ball. We do not know when this will be over. Those working with the elderly wish that this heartache and pain will stop and that the elderly will be safe again and not live in personal ghettos, away from the rest of the world outside. The reality is that only we can stop this and make their sacrifices worthwhile. Every one of us, every individual, is part of a link in a chain which the virus can flow through and move from one person to another. If that chain is not broken by responsible action, then the virus will travel on and on effecting people, especially the elderly in ways we cannot predict. If everyone feels a social responsibility and can stop to see what all this is doing to the elderly, then and only then would we really be doing our elderly justice. If we are responsible in stopping this spread then they will still be alive to hug, when we can hug them again, and maybe still be with us at table next Christmas.
Ms Charmaine Montesin
General Manager | AX Care