The pandemic and I. (3) Essential staff in a medical retirement home

Who are the essential staff members required to be on site to operate a typical, fully functioning residential home for 70+ elderly people with medical needs? The list may be longer than you think. The following is based on my own observations from my workplace…

  • Manager
  • Head nurse
  • Nurses
  • Care assistants
  • Receptionist
  • Maintenance
  • Cleaning staff
  • Chef
  • Kitchen assistants
  • Restaurant servers
  • Laundry staff

Without any of the above, the establishment would soon cease to function properly. Let’s look at staff members who aren’t required to be on site each day, but without whose services the residents would undoubtably suffer…

  • Psychologist
  • Physiotherapist
  • Occupational therapist
  • Speech therapist
  • Chiropodist
  • Activities coordinator
  • Hairdresser

The second list is shorter, yet removing any of these for a length of time will result in a diminishment of the health of the residents. Let’s look at a third list. These are professionals who may only be inside the establishment for a very short period.

  • Visiting doctors
  • Ambulance drivers
  • Medical equipment delivery and maintenance
  • Kitchen supplies delivery
  • Cleaning supplies delivery
  • Pharmaceutical supplies delivery

Another short list, but take away any of these and the service will suffer. Let’s look at our final list: two groups of non-professionals who are without doubt vital to the well-being of the residents… yet, are currently prohibited from entering the establishment due to Covid-19 coronavirus.

  • Family
  • Friends

So sad, that the only two groups which have any emotional meaning and bond to the residents are not allowed in. Naturally, this absence is already taking its toll on the psychological well-being of some of our residents. Examples: residents becoming tearful or withdrawn because they miss seeing loved ones. One resident celebrating her 84th birthday alone. One resident missing her gifts of chocolate and sweets. Residents becoming angry because they do not understand the rules surrounding Covid-19. Residents sensing they are in prison because they aren’t allowed to go out anymore.

Our units are like a ghost town since no visitors allowed. Honestly, you don’t really appreciate the presence of family and friends day to day, until they are suddenly no longer visiting.

To try and ease this unfortunate situation, what can we – as staff – do? And what can family and friends do?

So far, the following is a help:

  • Staff giving over some of their break time to spend with residents.
  • More music, sing-a-longs, and dance activities – this falls to our heroic activities coordinator who is having to make all activities herself as no outside entertainment is allowed in.
  • One-to-one time – this falls to our heroic psychologist who is keen to give as much of her time as possible to chat with each resident. (On a side note, I would now place the activities coordinator and psychologist in my first list due to current circumstances, when previously they placed in my second list).
  • Ensuring all residents have access to phones and aid given to speak to their loved ones.
  • Setting up residents to communicate with family via Skype.
  • Encouraging family to send gifts and letters and flowers through the post.

It’s not much, but you can see it making a difference in small ways. Reaching out to people you believe are suffering from loneliness is something we can all do. Already, there are Apps made and being created to try and link people together remotely. Not just for the elderly… even younger people will feel alone and afraid if made to become isolated.

Report – Monday 16 March

  • President Macron gave an address tonight announcing a near total lockdown of France. From tomorrow noon nobody can venture outdoors for at least the next 15 days unless they can prove they are essential workers or buying essential goods.
  • 100,000 Police mobilised onto the streets to ensure citizens abide by the new rules.
  • France closes its borders.
  • Reported: 5,423 confirmed coronavirus cases and 127 deaths.

My day:

  • Work for me is okay today. No reports of Covid-19 or suspected cases related to us. However, we were short-staffed with some having to change shifts for child care reasons, and one staff going off sick (not Covid-19 related).
  • Two of our residents died today, both of old age and with no underlying illness. One of them was from my unit, so I had to prepare her body for the undertaker. Both residents I had got to know well over the past three years, so it was sad to see them leave, but at least they died peacefully, in bed, and without suffering any pain. A decent way to go.
  • We welcomed a new resident today… but due to the recent strict rules of having to quarantine any new arrivals, this person will now have to spend the next 15 days isolated in his bedroom. Welcome to your new home!
  • A replacement chef came today and gave everyone extra helpings for lunch… this went down rather well with all 🙂

Don’t forget to wash your hands frequently…

This is an excellent way to wash your hands correctly. I currently work in the French health care system and have spent years working for the NHS in the UK. The above method is also approved by WHO, and is the one I’ve always used.

For the most accurate and up to date information regarding all aspects of Coronavirus, go to theWorld Health Organization website Please share this link to others so that we all have the same information.

Thanks for reading. Until next time, everyone stay safe.


Disclaimer. This report is meant to offer an overview of the fluid impact upon a care worker in the French medical system. No names of any persons or institutions are given, and the reportage here concerns decisions made at a French national level which is available to the public at any time. No breach of confidentiality or professional workplace standards is made or implied. Any health advice stated here is exactly the same as that given by the World Health Oraganization public advice pages 

15 thoughts on “The pandemic and I. (3) Essential staff in a medical retirement home

  1. I don’t know where you find the stamina and clarity to address the pandemic as you do in this diary…
    I salute you my friend.

    Seeing the delay of response in several countries, please dont let anyone tell you that you are overreacting. We don’t understand that what happens today will be depicted several days later; so in that manner the clever thing to do would be to ” overreact ” to current data to balance out the future projection.
    I am sad on top of whatever I face personally cause two weeks ago I communicate with my loved ones in the USA and tell them to act and take precautions and their response was” dont worry all is normal here”;
    in GB friends were going nuts over the herd immunity approach; and let me not imagine what happens to countries like India…

    How many decisions are made based on DOW instead of people wellfare?
    I will stop my ” outbreak” ; forgive me for abusing the hospitality of the TVTA home.
    Again, my total respect goes to you my friend; not in the social media appreciation fashion, but sincerely and knowing what it takes to be able to provide your services to the elderly with true care and maintaining their dignity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi my friend, thanks so much for your kind and thoughtful comments – you know you’re always welcome here (and if the only thing I can stockpile atm is wine then be certain I have a bottle (or 3) marked for you and me one day 🙂
      I am saddend but not surprised really at the reaction of, say, the current UK government (who let’s be honest here are only ever in it for the money). The ‘herd immunity’ programme was absolutely shocking and frightening. To think, people voted for these lunatics (and their Brexit).
      The country I currently live in is not without its faults for sure! But its approach to Covid-19 is in line with the majority and transparent science, and is largely to be applauded. Plus, there is a sense here that you will be looked out for if you are struggling.
      Be safe and well, my friend, and thanks as always for your good words 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello TVTA, sorry to hear that reality is really setting in and you have had to suffer the loss of two residents. It’s a hard vocation you are in but know that I’m applauding the effort you and your colleagues are putting in at this difficult time. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Hello TVTA, I can’t do much in the big scheme of things but just reminding folks that they are in my thoughts and have my moral support/thanks hopefully makes a little difference. And so far my folks and I are OK thank you. The whole situation is getting “real” with increased measures in the UK now so I am a bit more apprehensive (though I was never dismissive of how bad this situation was in the first place).

        Liked by 1 person

      • Just doing whet you’re doing is a massive help and always make a difference.
        Am keeping up with UK news as well as here. UK govt so slow to react and implement solid measures. I hope they get their act together real quick. As for the elderly dad of the PM saying on live TV he’ll still go to the pub… I’m kind of lost for words on him that are not expletive laden. Sigh.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I am watching the UK breakfast news program now and the newscasters (Piers Morgan in particular) can’t believe Johnson Senior’s comments either. If I didn’t have to watch the news to keep informed as best I can I wouldn’t bother. They just had the Secretary to the Treasury on the show repeating the “Medical advice says if you are over 70…..” speech ad infinitum, useless really.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I didn’t know you worked in a nursing home. That’s a very honorable job. I appreciate you sharing this information with everyone on your blog. I feel sad for the elderly as it is, and this has just made it harder for them. My Grandma is in a good home in MA, but of course none of the family members can see her now. I worry that some of the elderly who are confused and can’t comprehend the situation will think their families abandoned them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Dee, thanks so much for the good words. It’s so frustrating for the residents – but also for the family… being kept apart during a time of high anxiety. I hope your Grandma is keeping well, you and yours too.
      You’re right about those who who are unable to understand the situation. We have one lady who although she’s upset can understand and makes do with phone calls. Another lady cannot understand and is very upset even when our psychologist intervenes and other residents and staff try to explain and comfort her. So difficult.
      At the moment we have relatives coming to the main gate to drop off gifts, cards and flowers for their loved ones – so cool! And a pleasure to see smiles on faces 🙂

      Like

  4. Thank you for all you do, Ford!
    Toronto has been on the same type lockdown for almost 2 weeks now. I have not gone out for 5 days, but will go out for supplies tomorrow. The entire province goes on lockdown tonight at 11:59.
    Many of our provinces are on lockdown.
    Many people & businesses cheat, break the rules.
    Now the police are issuing fines.
    It’s so crazy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lockdown is a good thing though of course not pleasant for most having to abide by it. I got stopped by police on way back from shift and asked to show papers. I don’t mind, it’s essential we try and stop the spread. Maddening that there are still some people out there breaking the social distance rules.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Good for you! I’m doing my part, too. It’s incredible how much work is involved in hunkering down. I spend at least 3 hours a day cleaning and sanitizing. I joined a fabulous grocery delivery service, and they are booked until April 20, so I’ll still have to venture out for supplies.
        IKR…about people not giving a shit. They might have a death wish, but I don’t! I’ve got a lot more Art Gowns to make, cats to pet, pies to bake and blogging to do! xo

        Liked by 1 person

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