AHEAD of this week’s anticipated surge in Covid-19 cases, care workers in West Belfast are preparing to move into nursing homes 24/7 to help protect elderly residents.
The move comes as it was confirmed that there are cases of Covid-19 in 20 care homes across the North.
Staff at Brooklands Nursing Home in Dunmurry are set to move in and live in the care home from this weekend onwards.
Care Assistant Patricia Brown said the care home is virus-free.
“We have been doing everything right so far and I thank God we have kept the virus away,” she explained.
“We introduced a complete lockdown. There have been no visitors for three weeks now.”
At Our Lady’s Care Home just off the Falls Road, many staff have moved out of their family homes and into temporary accommodation.
Manager Anne Marie Lowry praised staff and families for their work and understanding during the crisis so far.
“I have worked in the care industry for years and in that time, I have cared for hundreds of elderly residents, but I have never before been confronted with a situation like this,” she said.
Brooklands staff have also thanked the local community for their kind donations of PPE equipment which has helped them continue their daily work.
“The local community has been fantastic in donating PPE equipment. We have more than enough masks and stuff to do us for now," said Patricia Brown.
“With no visitors, we have just had to think of other ways to keep residents in touch with their families. Last week, we had a social distancing disco attended by the Lord Mayor. The video went live on Facebook and it was great for families to see their loved ones happy and dancing along in their wheelchairs.
“We are also using technology such as Facetime to keep in touch with families so they can talk to and see each other.
“Residents’ safety is paramount. I have been there 20 years and that does not change. We are checking temperatures by the hour and doing everything we can.
“The next two weeks is going to be frightening and by moving in, we are not only protecting the residents but our own families as well. We had always planned this from an early stage that we would move in around the expected peak time.”
Meanwhile, at Our Lady’s Care Home, just off the Falls Road, many staff have moved out of their family homes and into temporary accommodation.
Manager, Anne Marie Lowry praised staff and families for their work and understanding during the crisis so far.
“Despite the stress and worry that my colleagues and I are under, we take great pride in the fact that we are working on the frontline to care for some of the most vulnerable in our society, who have never needed us more. I'm so proud of my entire team, and grateful to each and every one of them.
“Anyone who works in the care industry understands the strong bonds that are formed between you and those in your care, you often spend more time with the residents than you do your own family and we care for them deeply. At a time when they aren't able to see their own loved ones, we are making it our priority to ensure their spirits are kept high and that we communicate as best as possible.
“We also want to thank each of the family members of our residents for their understanding and numerous kind messages of support during this very difficult time, we look forward to a time when we can welcome them back into our home with open arms.”