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Care Homes & COVID-19 by Wilf Hayler

Updated: May 20, 2020

Since we have heard the alarming news from the figures about the situation in many care homes,  I will try to tell of my experiences in an effort to reassure those who have been concerned.

At Bernhard Baron Cottage homes we have not had any cases of the virus to date; whether we have been lucky or whether it's due to how the Homes Management have dealt with the situation is of course unknown at this stage.

We have been split into two separate entities; those in the cottages and those in the main building; we are not able to mix or be in contact with one another. Lunch is taken to the cottages by two volunteers from the outside world (these are the only two volunteers now in evidence in the homes).Those from The Cottages queue up 6 feet apart in the entrance porch between 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. to obtain their other provisions;  during this time those from the Main Building must avoid the porch and the reception area. Later, main building lunch partakers are limited to 2 at a table sitting diagonally-this has caused much confusion to those not into geometry or cartography!.. and of course there is much less conversation.

Those who have made hospital visits must remain in their rooms on their return for the prescribed time and meals are served to them there. So, how do we spend our day...we have tried, wherever possible, to keep regular activities as normal, but these have to be small groups to obey the Social Contact rule.

Quakers have continued to hold meetings for worship - one inside in the Quiet Room for four of us and one outside in the Peace Garden at the same time. Readings from Quaker Faith and Practice are shared between the two groups. The Sunday evening Ecumenical service has become a virtual one because the congregation is too large to fit in a small space without breaking government rules.

Music is playing a large part in our inside activities. As we cannot receive our regular entertainment we have had to entertain ourselves (I don't think I have ever sung “Roll out the Barrel” before, or some first World War songs, but I do draw the line at some). Also we have exercises (and exercises) some to music such as Hokey Cokey, the Chestnut Tree, Simon Says, YMCA and the Music Man which is pure hysteria.

In the Autumn, with outside help, we formed a Choir singing a wide variety of music. Numbers have been greatly reduced due to the loss of the cottages and the volunteers, but we are actually trying to learn some new music.

Each Saturday evening we are entertained with a wide variety of films with choc ices served. Apart from the exercises, our two Activities ladies keep us occupied, if if we wish, with quizzes, discussions using the daily or local papers, and board games. We also have a poetry group.

We are fortunate in having reasonably extensive grounds although we are restricted in which parts we can go (in which direction) to avoid meeting others.

There are of course, advantages in being confined - we get to know each other more and make new friends.

I cannot finish without mentioning the Management and Staff who are so nice to all of us and particularly the Carers who must all have some home worries at this time without having to put up with us and our grumbles, and who remain unruffled and helpful. Each Thursday evening a few of us, with the carers and the cottage dwellers (at a safe distance) join for the weekly clapping session. I am told the people living opposite also join in from their homes.

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