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Covid-19: Care homes step up safety

  • Emergency plan: Fiona Douglas of Westmeath residential home(Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Care homes are taking extra steps to protect vulnerable residents against the Covid-19 threat.

Fiona Douglas, the executive director of Westmeath residential home in Pembroke, said that staff had taken preventive measures to minimise the risk of infection since the start of March.

She added: “We understand that this is a constantly evolving situation. Westmeath has an emergency plan in place and is prepared to take additional steps as needed.

“We will continue to stay up to date with the government regulations and implement our strategic plan as things progress.”

Ms Douglas was speaking after care home directors met officials from the Ministry of Health to discuss ways that care homes can protect seniors.

They discussed measures, including a ban on visitors, boosting cleaning procedures and the use of emergency plans if a care resident is infected, at the meeting at the K Margaret Carter Centre in Devonshire yesterday.

Covid-19 and other respiratory infections are a major threat to older people.

Ms Douglas said that the care home banned visits after the meeting.

She added that residents and staff also had a meeting to learn about the virus and ways to prevent its spread.

Ms Douglas explained that the meeting allowed people to ask any questions, raise concerns and was an opportunity for nurses to outline the travel history of anybody they lived with.

She added that staff had ensured that residents had stayed calm.

Ms Douglas said: “Residents are happy and being well cared for by our great group of staff.

“While we are on higher alert, we ensured that staff were already operating at a higher level of care as if the virus was already on island.

“This has made the transition, post confirmed cases, much smoother.”

Peter Smith, the president of Meals on Wheels in Paget, said that the service had not changed its hours and would continue to serve 180 elderly clients.

However, he added: “Our clients and families have been advised that it is possible our service might be curtailed or otherwise restricted in the near future and that they should try and put in place alternative sourcing of a meal.

Mr Smith also said that the food delivery charity lost about 25 of their 120 volunteers this week because they were elderly or vulnerable and could not risk exposure to the coronavirus.

He added: “We need more drivers and kitchen workers.

“Our aim is to be able to replace them with younger volunteers and we want to hear from some of the members of our community who now have some extra time on their hands.”

Mr Smith said that volunteers were now the only people allowed in the kitchen and distribution areas.

Delivery drivers have been told to avoid personal contact, leave meals at the doors of the client and keep a distance of six feet between one another.

To volunteer at Meals on Wheels, call 236-1815