A SENIOR care worker from a nursing home in Wrexham has described the dramatic changes which have been brought about by the coronavirus outbreak.

Highfield Nursing Home, on Summerhill Road, houses 59 elderly residents who are all over 70 years old, and most of whom have underlying medical conditions which make them vulnerable to the deadly virus.

Laura Shone, a senior care practitioner at the home, which is part of the Pendine Park care organisation, describes how things have changed in recent weeks following the outbreak.

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She said: “I had to phone all the relatives to say please can they avoid coming to see their loved ones. It was really hard, and some of them were crying.

“But on the whole the relatives all really understand, as much as they know it’s hard that they can’t come to visit, they are supporting us.

“Almost every day people are dropping off supplies for their relatives at the door – things that they need like extra toiletries and clothes, and goodies they might enjoy – like crisps chocolate, family photographs, magazines books - anything to make them smile.”

She added: “We have made sure all of our staff have refreshed their infection control toolkit training, which we usually do annually.

“Before staff come on shift, we all have to wash our hands outside before entering the building, and every day we go through the handwashing techniques.

“We do a glitterbug test so with a UV light we can see any bacteria on people’s hands after they’ve washed them, and the staff have to sign to say I have seen them wash their hands directly.

“I work with staff on all aspects of the hygiene procedures, making sure then are wearing the correct Personal Protective Equipment clothing, and changing them regularly.

“I go around making sure all the hand sanitizers are topped up. We have hand washing and sanitizing stations at every entrance and all of the staff also carry their own hand sanitizer at all times, so they use that too and encourage the residents to.”

Staff members are also doing their best to keep their residents happy and engaged at a time when they may be feeling fearful.

She added: “Everybody’s come up with creative ways to keep morale up, including the staff doing a handwashing video to the tune of ‘Stayin’ Alive’.

“As things are so serious at the moment, we wanted to make it fun to keep people’s spirits up. The staff enjoyed doing it and we have showed it to the residents too.

“When we give the residents their meals, we’re trying to give them a bit more of a dining experience.

“So, instead of putting salt and pepper on the table, we are trying to make it like a restaurant service, and going around asking people: ‘Would you like salt and pepper sir?’

“We’re also making sure people’s make up has been put on, their hair’s been done, and that they’re wearing their favourite aftershave or perfume.

“It’s a real family atmosphere here, and we are doing everything we can to make sure they feel safe and reassured.”

Mrs Shone also praised her hard-working members of staff who have endeavoured to keep routines as normal and consistent as possible during these difficult times.

“The staff are working so hard, and not one of them have moaned. They have all just got on with it, and I honestly couldn’t be prouder of the team

“We are effectively creating a group quarantine, protective cocoon around our residents, and inside that we need to look after their physical health, and their mental health as well.

“At the forefront of everything we do is making sure they are getting that person centred contact and care, just making sure that the day-to-day chat is still going.

“There are some lovely moments – the place is full of laughter, and you can see already the bonds are strengthening between the carers and the residents as they are spending more time together.

“We are here to do a job and so we have to stop worrying about what might happen and just make each day as good as it can be.”