Care homes respond creatively to lockdown

No. 2 in a series of articles reporting on the responses of Caritas member organisations to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Catholic-run care homes for elderly and people with disabilities say they are facing unprecedented challenges during the coronavirus pandemic, and thanked parishes and other communities for their support.
Helen McCarroll, Communications Officer for Father Hudson’s Care, which runs two services in Coleshill in the Archdiocese of Birmingham – St Joseph’s Home for older people and people with dementia, and St Catherine’s bungalows for disabled adults – said that carers have taken on extra roles with residents during lockdown, such as hairdressing, running exercise activities and games, organising music therapy and baking.

Staff support residents using video calls and messaging applications to maintain communication with families. St Catherine’s has boosted art and craft activities, and internet communications. Sue Ingram, parent of a resident in St Catherine’s bungalows, said she was grateful that her son Jamie is being so well cared for. ‘I am unable to visit him in these difficult times, but his key workers are constantly updating me with pictures and videos that melt my heart; staff are wonderful,’ she said.

Catholic Care (Diocese of Leeds) has 11 homes for adults with learning disabilities. Its Director, Carol Hill, said, ‘The coronavirus epidemic has brought real challenges to the people we care for and our staff.’ Those have included ensuring sufficient staffing in the context of sickness, isolation and shielding those with critical health conditions, and supporting staff with correct advice and guidance on keeping safe in the workplace. Staff have been challenged when shopping due to amount of people they are buying for. Residents are now inside all day but “incredibly resourceful staff” have been creative with new skills, leading karaoke, singing, dancing, arts and crafts and exercise classes ‘before calming down with new membership of subscription TV services’.

Caritas Salford has two homes for young homeless mothers who need extra support during their early days of motherhood. ‘As neither of the homes can allow the normal footfall of visitors and leaving the homes is restricted to essential shopping and exercise, the staff and young mothers have adapted’, Director Mark Wiggan said. Initiatives – from a “self-care evening” to arts and crafts activities – ‘keep everyone engaged and in good spirits’.

This post is adapted from an article by Ellen Teague, first published in ‘The Tablet’ in association with CSAN.