COVID-stories: the nursing home manager
Updated: Jul 16, 2020
Since the end of February, we started the first preventive measures against COVID-19 within our residential care center in East Flanders, Belgium. And as in all institutions, the measures became increasingly strict until we eventually went into lockdown by mid-March . By retaking a resident from the hospital we also had to deal with COVID-19. But thanks to an early outbreakplan and crisis management, we were able to keep it under control.
From then onwards, we always adjusted our operations and put a lot of effort into individual activities such as walking, cycling... so that our residents still had a meaningful day’s activity and they did not feel restricted or isolated. We went creatively looking for solutions so that they could keep in touch with their families as much as possible through whatsapp, window contacts, a chat wall (a wall in plexi glass with opening at the top, so that one can see and hear each other better without physical contact),... and as soon as it was possible back to safe visits. So the people who lived here never felt lonely. We are known for our many activities and again during this challenging time new initiatives were taken such as frequent garden performances and the visit of a circus horse... weekly treats such as waffles, ice creams, smoothies ... until we could again switch to activities in small groups, within their own bubble.
When a resident deteriorated in his general condition, visitors were always allowed, with the necessary protective measures, and the family was always given the opportunity to say goodbye personally in the event of a death. The family was kept informed in detail about the ins and outs by e-mail, telephone and daily photos of our residents and their activities within our own Facebook group. The staff were highly motivated and flexible to adapt to the new working conditions each time and spontaneously took on other tasks. Some turned out to be hairdressers, pedicurists... The solidarity within the teams grew exponentially and they were strengthened by the many expressions of support and gratitude we received. Despite the fact that it was a difficult period for everyone, we still managed to continue to offer warm care during this ‘sterile’ period that COVID-19 entailed and we could still guarantee our residents a warm Home.
I started my career as a midwife but after 15 years I made a career switch to elderly care. I worked in a geriatric department in the hospital as well as in residential care centres and also started retraining. 4 years ago I obtained my Master’s degree in Gerontology and since then I have been working as general manager.