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‘I miss my family’: How a Norfolk care home is keeping residents’ spirits high during pandemic

PUBLISHED: 12:55 28 April 2020 | UPDATED: 14:25 28 April 2020

Staff at The Beeches care home are keeping spirits high during the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Kayleigh Scarff

Staff at The Beeches care home are keeping spirits high during the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Kayleigh Scarff

Kayleigh Scarff

Five weeks since the country went into lockdown and as the fight continues to protect our most vulnerable during the pandemic, a Norfolk care home has been rated as one of the county’s best. Reporter EMILY THOMSON spoke with staff and residents at The Beeches care home.

The Beeches care home reisdent, Valeria Elvin, with care home manager, Kayleigh Scarff. Photo: Kayleigh ScarffThe Beeches care home reisdent, Valeria Elvin, with care home manager, Kayleigh Scarff. Photo: Kayleigh Scarff

Despite these uncertain times, residents at The Beeches care home, in East Harling, have said staff are keeping them entertained, helping them to stay in contact with loved ones and making sure they stay positive as lockdown continues.

It comes after the home, which can care for up to 44 people, received its second outstanding rating after an inspection from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), on March 6, just before the outbreak began.

Residential homes across the county have come under scrutiny as the number of care home deaths due to the coronavirus reaches more than 1,000 across the UK.

But, The Beeches care home, under the Black Swan Care Group, currently has no suspected or confirmed cases within its facilities and care home manager, Kayleigh Scarff, said she feels confident they can handle whatever comes their way.

The Beeches care home manager Kayleigh Scarff informing her staff that they have recieved an outstanding overall rating for the second time after a CQC inspection. Photo: Kayleigh ScarffThe Beeches care home manager Kayleigh Scarff informing her staff that they have recieved an outstanding overall rating for the second time after a CQC inspection. Photo: Kayleigh Scarff

“Naturally it’s worrying for everybody and these are really uncertain times,” Ms Scarff said.

“But have everything under control and efficient PPE if we need it. We are confidence that we have everything in place to make sure both residents and staff are safe.

“We have a positive outlook and whatever we are doing seems to be working. We still don’t have any confirmed or suspected cases and that on its own speaks volumes.”

In the CQC report the home was praised for its wide range of activities to keep residents active and engaged.

The Beeches Care Home at East Harling, which has been awarded an outstanding rating. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe Beeches Care Home at East Harling, which has been awarded an outstanding rating. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

But as lockdown has been extended, and entertainers and special guests have had to be cancelled, staff at the home have been doing their best to get creative and make sure everyone is entertained and “smiling”.

Ms Scarff said: “When we walk in the door it feels the same as it has always been, but our activities coordinator has been working hard so resident are still enjoying life and involved in enriching activities.

“Fortunately, just before the virus we started a silver service club where we help them get in tune with modern day technology so residents feel confident to make calls and send emails to family members.”

Marie Browne is the activities coordinator at the home and said despite what is going on outside the resident’s spirits remain high.

Ms Browne said: “It’s nice to see, despite what’s going on behind the wall and gate, residents are having as much interaction as they can.

“We still have that community and homely feeling. It is having a positive impact on residents, providing distraction, improving memory and wellbeing and lifting their spirits.

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“There are things on the news that will worry them, but we have made a smile wall, with happy pictures to cheer everyone up. We are all part of this together.”

As residents are forced to stay in the home with no family members allowed to visit, Ms Browne says staff have been doing everything they can to make sure they maintain contact with their loved ones.

Valerie Elvin, 83, has lived at the care home for nearly 16 months and said she is not worried but is missing her family coming to visit her.

Ms Elvin, who lived in Attleborough for 24 years, said: “I’m not too worried. The only thing I’m a little bit concerned about is I’m diabetic.

“But they look after us very well, they wipe the door handles and keep us nice and clean. I have no worries there at all.

“They are very kind they entertain us as much as they can, but I do miss family, I miss my boys, children, grandchildren and great children.

“The staff bring the phone if I say ‘is it okay if I call my family?’ which is nice.

“But everybody is the same so there isn’t much they can do until this is all sorted and hopefully that won’t be too long.

“My favourite activity we have done is when we made some funny faces on paper plates and I’m back to knitting again.”

Ms Scarff added: “We are used to having a lively atmosphere with having people come and go, visitors or entertainers but to have that taken away because of the virus was a big shock.

“But it isn’t effecting our mood or way of working and we are trying to make sure they are living happy lives.

“Our motivation every day is our residents, who we love, and we want to keep them safe.”


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