By Leah Fox
Quick-thinking care home staff have come up with a novel way to help elderly residents with dementia keep in touch with loved ones during the Covid-19 lockdown – by sending positive virtual video messages.
Workers went above and beyond to keep spirits high at Bentley Manor Care Home in Crewe, Cheshire, by posting heart-warming pictures of residents holding up messages and sending video well wishes to their family of friends.
Deputy manager Gemma Vaughan, 36, came up with the idea after the building first closed its doors to all visitors last Wednesday to help minimise the chance of virus entering the home, but staff wanted to reassure residents’ families their relatives were well.
The care home’s hope-spreading gesture has since gone viral with their social media showered with hundreds of emotional and supportive comments from residents’ families – and even prompted a surprise mystery donation of cake for staff.
Home manager Andrea Fjodor, 52, said: “We always post things on Facebook to keep families updated.
“On Sunday they wrote messages to their families and friends which we took pictures of, and yesterday we brought in iPads so they could use Skype.
“Yesterday it went mad on Facebook – everyone kept commenting ‘please keep putting the pictures on!’ because they love the messages.
“We just wanted to keep up with communication because without it, it would have a detrimental effect on our residents, and to send out messages to tell their families we’re ok.
“Lots of them don’t really understand due to their dementia but they’re very scared and worried about the virus because nobody’s ever seen anything like this before.
“Even though the doors are shut, there are other ways to keep them open – technology is brilliant.”
The care home houses 80 residents aged 50 and over, who mainly have dementia or are being nursed for conditions such as Parkinson’s, heart disease and diabetes.
During the coronavirus lockdown, two activity coordinators are helping keep the residents entertained while outdoor activities have ceased with themed days and craft activities.
Andrea said workers are also taking on advice from health professionals, making sure they thoroughly clean the building on a daily basis and have everyone use hand sanitiser and gloves.
She added: “We’re being overly cautious with our measures and following health guidelines – we’re updating everyone with the latest information.
“We’re cleaning more than usual because we just don’t want to bring it into the home as everyone is vulnerable.
“This is where staff come in to keep spirits high – if we all keep working hard, we will get through this.
“And luckily we’ve got a good set of staff who are very dedicated – we are advising them not to go out in their uniforms and we have put hand sanitisers and posters everywhere.”
The hard-working staff even posted a ‘naughty’ picture asking for people to send in cake – and their prayers were answered when an unknown person delivered a big package of sweet treats this morning.
Andrea added: “Staff are going above and beyond by meeting relatives at the door to accept letters and chocolates from their family members, so they’re all still getting their goodies.
“I would say to other care homes to keep communication going so that residents know their loved ones are still there – it’s testing but we will get through this as long as the staff and residents are happy.”