COVID Health HEALTH Health and Wellbeing LEAD STORY

Care Homes under Covid: How life has changed

Care Homes are an integral part of our society and naturally, were turned upside down when the lockdown began. Eight months later, how have care homes adapted to the new way of living?

Lloyd Ngochi, 21, from Hereford has worked at Ledbury Market Lodge care home (Shaw Healthcare) for the best part of four years, a year ago being promoted to a full time carer. “My job is to care for the patients, support them through their day to day routines and just help them live as normal a life as possible.”

Lloyd as the legendary ‘Mr Motivation’ leading a fitness class at Ledbury

The sector Lloyd works in at Ledbury deals with patients who’ve been through “brain injuries, either from birth or from an incident like being hit by a car you know trauma injuries to the frontal lobe… a range of unique adults with different conditions and needs.”

The changes that carers and their patients have had to adapt to have been enormous. “It was difficult explaining the concept of Lockdown to some patients, like those with very short term memory I will explain we can’t do this because it’s a lockdown then they forget and I repeat and they forget again!” Patients at Ledbury are used to taking part in a huge range of activities, day trips and visitations. So the abrupt stop to these was a huge disruption to routine. “We are a unique unit, we can take them on the mini-bus to do all sorts of stuff like pottery classes, theatre trips, beach days we would do pretty much anything with wheelchair access and have a great time. So from getting up to all that to, no, we’re on lockdown you can’t leave the building is tough.”

We have an elderly gentleman who every Saturday his routine is get up and we’ll go for the paper so telling him we can’t do that is difficult. “Residents are usually allowed to go to shops or nip out to town alongside a carer whereas now one carer must go and bring back all the essentials. Lloyd says this isn’t ideal as it “takes away some of their independence.”

“These changes can knock on effect behaviour and motivation so we have to find other ways of keeping the guys entertained and active.” Lloyd and the team have certainly got on top of creating new engaging activities: movie nights, foot massages, Nintendo Wii, baking, cooking, household chores all sorts”

“Residents love to watch us carers sweating and embarrassing ourselves on Just Dance!”

Not only has the residents’ lives changed but equally the carers like Lloyd. With no third party cleaners or practitioners allowed in house, the team of 7 at Lloyd’s Ledbury unit have taken on all the responsibilities. “We clean and sanitise the whole facility four times a day, first thing in the morning we get our gloves and PPE on then we wipe all handrails, windows, chairs, wheelchairs, and vac and mop all floors everything possible cleaned from top to bottom. That’s the morning clean then we do it again before and after every meal and again in the evening.” Fortunately for the residents of Ledbury, Lloyd and his team are all natural “clean freaks!”

Cleaning rules and details were not specified in the very brief guidelines care homes were given by the Government. So Shaw Healthcare have created their own personalised cleaning programme to cater for each site.

With the ‘pfizer vaccine’ on the horizon care homes may be on their way back to their exciting daily routines. “Having that freedom is so important, as soon as guests have that normality back in their lives.”

Lloyd (third left) with his team

Despite how much more difficult Covid has made Lloyd’s work, he still manages to find the positives. “We have become so close with our patients like i know them all so well now because we have literally spent so much time together, we can give them that personal touch… you know what I actually love my job, the patients are so much fun and some of the stuff we get up to is amazing.”

Being unable to speak to family has been one of the toughest parts of all for the whole country, so Ledbury guests have regular video calls with loved ones. “Missing out on seeing their own family has made them closer as a home because they are properly living together like doing the dishes and other chores so theres always a positive from these situations.”

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