Careful planning helps Cork nursing home reopen for visits
Oaklodge residents get to have visits from their loved ones in the garden
Diarmuid Ó Dálaigh, proprietor, Oaklodge Nursing Home, Cloyne, Co Cork. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
Careful planning helped Oaklodge Nursing Home stay Covid-19 free during the pandemic and owner Diarmuid Ó’Dálaigh and his management team have adopted the same approach to opening the home up to visits.
This week nursing home visits were allowed to resume as part of the Government’s roadmap to reopening the country following the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Ó’Dálaigh, Clinical Lead Katherine Doran and Director of Nursing Joe Faulkner liaised with public health specialists in UCC over the past week and residents reaped the benefits as they were able to meet loved ones in the garden.
“We decided to begin with baby steps and be very careful when reintroducing visiting for everyone so we decided we would do visits outdoors in the garden or in a special marquee if the weather was inclement,” said Mr Ó’Dálaigh.
The families of each of the 64 residents at Oaklodge were invited to nominate two people to visit at different times once a week and each nominated visitor was then required to fill in a health screening form.
This was to assure Director of Nursing at Oaklodge Joe Faulkner that they had no contact with Covid-19 and didn’t post any risk to their loved one or other residents at the nursing home, which is located near Cloyne in East Cork.
Once the visitor’s health screening form was checked and they were approved for visits, they were then given a visiting time and a 30-minute slot to come and see their loved one at Oaklodge where they were again checked by staff.
“When they present at Oaklodge, their temperature is checked to make sure that it is okay and we verify that all is still the same as it was when they submitted the form and that they haven’t any symptoms that might be Covid.
“If everything is okay, we then move to the sanitising station and they mask up in preparation for the meeting – we still observe social distancing so we have a two metre table where they can sit and meet their loved ones.”
Katherine Doran said that many of those visiting relatives on Monday admitted that they were a bit nervous at the prospect of being able to meet up with the loved ones for the first time in almost 14 weeks.
“We closed down for visits early in March so at this stage, it’s almost 14 weeks – they said they were nervous but they said the checklist made them feel safe and that we were asking them to fill out the form to protect their loved ones.
“They said it was a very difficult time being away from them and not being able to see them and be close to them and that while they had Facetime and window visits, it was very tough for them.
“One lady who visited us said window visits are very difficult for persons with dementia because you can’t hear or make eye contact with them or read the cues as well as you could on a full visit so she found it very tough.
“Another woman, who came to visit her husband, said it was like being released from prison after serving a sentence – she said today was like a big occasion but it went well and she thanked us for everything we had done.”