A 90 year-old West Belfast woman who survived TB back in the 1940s is recovering from Covid-19.

Bernie McNairney- who turns 91 on June 4 and suffers from dementia- was diagnosed with the deadly virus six weeks ago.

Originally from Albert Street, Bernie has been living in Brooklands Care Home in Dunmurry for five years after she was diagnosed with dementia.

Bernie's son, Damian explained: “Six weeks ago, she hadn’t been feeling well. She was tested and it came back positive for Covid-19.

“It was tough to take not being able to see her or hold her hand. I just thought about how it was spreading through care homes and killing people of her age.

“Thankfully she wasn’t admitted to hospital. She is used to the Brooklands environment and all the wonderful staff there.

“It was decided it would be best to treat her at Brooklands. I couldn’t have imagined her going to the Mater with staff in PPE could be very unsettling for someone with dementia.

“The good news is that mum is getting stronger, her temperature is down and her appetite is back.

“She is a tough old woman. She had Tuberculosis (TB) back in the day when it was a thing in the 1940s so it is like she has come through two pandemics now. She was bedridden for almost two years with it.

“My dad died ten years ago and that hit her hard. He was her life partner and then she was diagnosed with the dementia.”

Damian has nothing but praise for staff at Brooklands Care Home who he says have gone above and beyond with their care and compassion for Bernie.

 Bernie McNairney and son, Damian[/caption]
Bernie McNairney and son, Damian[/caption]

“I have nothing but praise for all the staff at Brooklands. They are absolute stars. You know them all by names and they just can’t do enough for my mum and all the residents.

“We applaud the NHS and rightly so. I am a social worker myself in the Belfast Trust so have a lot of friends who are nurses and doctors.

“Staff in care homes don’t get that recognition. They are poorly paid but the compassion and commitment they have shown has been second to none.

“We realised Brooklands were doing the clap for carers every Thursday night. I live over in North Belfast but arranged with Brooklands to come over every week and see her through her bedroom window, which backs onto the Stewartstown Road. She waved and chatted away.

“We now receive regular updates as a family from Brooklands about her and it is all positive. She was all smiles at the window last Thursday.”

Damian, who hasn’t seen his mum in person since early March is counting down the days to hold her hand once again.

“I always had a routine with her every Sunday before lockdown,” he added.

“I would go over with my sons and take her to Clonard and then for a cup of tea and a bun and then she would go to my sisters for her dinner.

“I am hoping we can do something next week for her birthday at a safe distance but we will celebrate it properly when lockdown is over.

“At the end of the day, I don’t want the care homes to open until it is safe to do so, given the health and safety of the residents inside.

“I am still counting the days down to get in and hold her hand and say hello.”