Paternoster House Home Manager Hannah shares her thoughts on the highs and lows of 2020.
“The home has a wonderful team spirit, which was evident after having to pull together and carry on during the pandemic."
Paternoster House in Cirencester has been through many challenges in the year that Covid-19 struck the country. It had several cases of COVID-19 in March at the beginning of the pandemic before testing had been brought in. Reacting quickly, the home implemented new infection control protocols and isolated residents in their rooms prior to the national lockdown.
Home Manager, Hannah Forsyth, who joined the Trust in March 2019, said: “Moving the home into a clinical environment with no visitors allowed was extremely challenging, but necessary.
“Before the pandemic, the home was open, busy and very sociable, often visiting relatives would speak to several residents, and friendships grew quickly. However since March, we’ve adapted to the new restrictions and made good use of the iPads bought by the Trust for relatives to video call their loved ones. Nevertheless, it has been sad to see the changes and residents missing their families.”
Despite limited visiting and residents now only able to mix in small bubbles, Hannah and her team have been proactive in finding ways to inspire joy and excitement at the home.
She added: “It’s important to keep up some normality and keep connections going. We look for joy in the home on a daily basis, and we do what we can to bring smiles to the faces of residents.”
Animals featured in fun activity days at the home organised by activity coordinator Sharon Dewsbury. Horses and ponies were brought in (literally) for residents to meet; a socially distanced bird of prey display took place in the garden and in September new chicks were nurtured and hatched in the building.
The home celebrates each resident’s birthdays, which this year included Gwen and Ernest who reached 100 and 101 respectively.
Another highlight for the home was a BBQ day, put on during the first lockdown. Hannah asked Chef Yi Jun Liang (John) to prepare homemade beef burgers, barbequed outside to give an authentic taste and smell. These were delivered individually to each resident in their rooms with all the traditional BBQ condiments and salads.
The team at Paternoster House showed loyalty, resilience and commitment to residents and fellow colleagues. Early in the pandemic they set up a social media group for the whole team and sent pink hearts to confirm they were coming to work.
Hannah said: “The home has a wonderful team spirit, which was evident after having to pull together and carry on during the pandemic. We are one family. This year, more than ever, we made that connection. My team show real love for each other and the residents.”
Hannah said: “We’ve had amazing support from our local community all through the year. This included food donations, cakes and letters to residents from pen pals. It’s been wonderful to know that families and the local Community here in Cirencester are supportive and understanding about the restrictions. They have reached out to us to help in any way they can.”
Looking to 2021
Hannah said: “I am looking forward to the time when it is safe to open up the home and become a community hub again. We hope to restart a French class with children and residents. I also miss the visits from children with learning difficulties, who used to come and perform songs with Makaton sign language. The residents really appreciate the intergenerational mixing and I cannot wait for the time we can get back to this vital community connection.
“I’m looking forward to being able to run residents’ trips out. We keep a wish list which residents add to. This year it included a Strictly Come Dancing live performance in Bristol which sadly couldn’t take place.
“And we want to hold another event for relatives who lost loved ones during this year. An opportunity to meet the staff who cared for their relatives, to have that time remember and connect.”
For Hannah personally, she is looking forward to enjoying her new house having moved from Surrey to be closer to work. She said: “I’ve had many nights staying with my parents in the last few months, I’m looking forward to my own space in my newly decorated house. I finally got the keys in November.”