We took the decision to lockdown at Birchwood earlier than most from 11th March.  It was important for us to make sure we protected our residents as keeping them safe is always our top priority.  With visits from families restricted, we knew this would be disappointing for all, however, we had to consider everyone within the home and do the best thing for all.

Regularly testing residents and staff

We received our first batch of tests for both residents and staff on 18th May. This allowed us to test everyone staying or working in our home and then again two weeks later. A further set of tests took place after a new batch arrived on 14th July. This allowed us to test everyone once again.  A third batch arrived on 4thAugust. This allowed us, as per testing guidelines, to test everyone and we have been testing staff regularly on a weekly basis and our residents every month from then on.

Ensuring a healthy stock of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

We were lucky to have a good contact who could supply us with the much sought-after PPE that was reported to be of shortage across the country.  Very early on we were able to acquire masks for all of the staff and a government care package from the NHS added 300 masks to our supply in the first week of April.  In early June we stocked up with 5000 extra masks to ensure ample supply for the months ahead by mitigating against and potential shortages to supply. As part of their everyday uniform, staff already wear gloves and aprons so we were fully prepared on that front. Staff simply had to add masks to their outfits from the 26th March to comply with regulations and to keep themselves and our residents safe.

Maintaining well-being and introducing visits

Realising lockdown was going to last longer than originally thought we needed to find a way to maintain residents well-being and enable some safe contact with their families. On 14th July, we created a socially distanced outdoor visitation area that allowed for a max of 3 visits a day for 20 minutes each.  Being able to provide this, yet keep everyone safe, was such a relief and brought some much-needed joy to all of us. Family members loved being able to visit their loved ones, but were also reassured by seeing how we were managing the situation.  One family said we had done an amazing job keeping everyone safe, and another said “what we are doing is clearly working.”

Keeping a smile on everyone’s faces

Ensuring everyone enjoys their time in the home is something we work hard to achieve.  Our usual calendar of events and activities, as is the case for all of us, was completely diminished.  We kept our eyes on the changing rules and unfolding situation to make sure we were able to inject some of the usual spirit of fun into the daily lives of Birchwood residents.

On July 2nd we held our first organised event for residents, allowing both our staff and residents to enjoy the great summer weather in our beautiful gardens. Following on from this successful event, and making the most of the glorious sunshine again, we held an afternoon tea on 18th July for them. Most recently, in September we held our first ever Harvest Hoedown for our residents. Our staff all got involved with a range of activities embracing the weather once again with highly engaging activities and games. Although these events couldn’t allow family and friends to visit, they brought fun, laughter and real sense of normality to the home, vital to the continued well-being of our residents and staff alike.

Looking to the future

Currently it looks unlikely that we can make any changes to the strict lockdown we have in place anytime soon, there is just too much at stake.  We continue to prioritise our residents and staff welfare and safety and this will remain our main focus for the foreseeable future.

We are hopeful and positive about the future as we feel proud of how we have managed a difficult and challenging situation. Having navigated through this we feel stronger and fully able to cope with whatever the future holds.  We look forward to welcoming more residents into our home in the future and being given the privilege of keeping them safe.

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