Life during lockdown: our residents' views

The outbreak of Coronavirus COVID-19 has had a huge impact on life for residents in care homes across the country. Media reports are worrying for families and people who may be thinking about a care home for their loved one. We asked residents in Country Court Care Homes across the UK to tell us about life in a care home during the lockdown.

Keeping in touch with family and friends

Contact with close family and friends is key to preventing loneliness and isolation and care staff have been supporting residents to keep in touch with people who are important to them as much as possible. Each care home has a tablet so people can Facetime or video conference and of course, people can take phone calls as often as they wish to. Paul, a resident at Heartlands Nursing Home in Yardley explains how he’s been keeping in touch with family and friends across the globe.

“A lot of my family live in Australia, but we do keep in touch. We speak on the telephone and I know if I want to speak to them the lovely ladies here will arrange that for me”.

Winifred, a resident at Ferrars Hall Care Home in Huntingdon, has family who live close by and they have been coming to the care home car park and phoning her from just outside the home so she can see them as they speak to one another.

Once a week they bring me my favourite magazines, it’s nice to see them from afar even for a short while to know that they are alright”.

Ruby who also lives at Ferrars Hall Care Home explained that while keeping in touch with her family virtually isn’t the same as seeing people face to face, she’s been Facetiming her relatives often and has a mobile phone that her family call too.

Making new friends during the lockdown

Care homes have strong ties with their local communities to ensure that residents retain their previous connections and feel part of the community in which they live. Staff have been overwhelmed by the generosity of local people and families of residents.

We’ve received so many thank you gifts,” said Allison Kennie Home Manager at Lostock Lodge Care Home in NorthwichFrom pizzas for staff to chocolates and hand-cream. We’ve also had some wonderful letters, cards and pictures from local children, these really do bring smiles to our residents' faces, they love the fact that people have not forgotten them and put such a lot of effort into creating something special for them to enjoy”.

Paul at Heartlands Nursing Home was asked if he’d received cards or letters from local children;

“Oh, my yes, we have had quite a lot, it's very heart-warming especially at a time like this. I love the rainbows and bright colours, very creative.”

Care homes have also received lots of postcards from people who are part of the ‘Postcards of Kindness’ Facebook group which encourages members of the public to write to care home residents. Country Court homes were all sent a stock of postcards to use and encouraged to send them to residents in other homes across the 32 homes in the group. This has seen new friendships develop across the country, with plans to arrange cross-home meet-ups when this is all over.

Making every day different

Residents have been enjoying a wide range of activities, staff have been trying to make each day different for people by coming up with engaging ways to have fun and enjoy life as much as possible. Country Court have run several initiatives throughout the lockdown to ensure residents can lead as full and active lives as possible. Our annual gardening competition Country Court in Bloom is well underway with residents planting and enjoying their gardens. Those unable to get out into the garden have been planting seeds in their rooms or getting creative for the upcycling category of the competition.

Winifred has enjoyed more puzzles and puzzle books as well as reading, Ruby joined in with a brand-new game at Ferrars Hall Care Home which involved a biscuit eating competition and was a big hit with residents. Paul commented “Put it like this, I am never bored. One thing I would like to add is how friendly everyone here is and so kind to me. I believe friendliness creates harmony.”

It’s not possible to continue with all activities in all homes as some residents may be isolating but Paul remained positive saying “I’m 94 and I enjoy my surroundings here and more importantly I feel secure and I have everything I need. I miss my dear wife Betty and I certainly miss being as agile as I once was”.

As part of the lockdown restrictions visitors are not allowed into any care homes, which includes entertainers and performers. However, many having been performing virtually on Facebook or YouTube. Country Court ran their own initiative to collate videos from families, friends and people local to the homes. The final video features children and adults singing, playing and performing songs for residents which staff have shown to residents on their TV screens.

The impact of changing working practices

Due to the new coronavirus guidelines for care homes, residents have noticed a few changes to working practices for care staff, we asked them what has had the most impact. Paul commented, “These dreadful face masks, it’s such a shame you know to hide such beautiful faces.”

“Games and activities are happening less often in groups. They have become a little more challenging to complete, so I am looking forward to when that changes.” Explained Winifred.

“Eating in my room, but I do prefer eating in my room. It’s like being on holiday. I’ve never had it so good!” said Ruby, she went on to say “I don’t miss a great deal, just seeing my family. We do things slightly differently. I couldn’t find a complaint”.

Looking ahead to life after lockdown

We are all looking forward to the lockdown being lifted, our residents are looking forward to seeing their families again more than anything. Winifred said she was looking forward to “getting back to chatting to all of the good friends I have here. I do realise that these measures are for our benefit.” Ruby said “It will be nice to go out with my daughter again, I miss her so much. I cannot see anything the Ferrars team could improve on”. Whilst Paul is looking forward to getting out and about “It would be nice to get out and go on a trip somewhere, in the great outdoors.”

For more information about life in our care homes please contact the Home Manager at your local care home, a full list of Country Court Care Homes can be found here:

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