THE impact of coronavirus crisis is unprecedented.

No area of life has been untouched by the pandemic and it’s a situation which has intensified this week following the announcement of further measures to enforce social distancing, in a bid to stop the virus from spreading. For elderly and vulnerable people in care homes, the extremity of this new way of life is even starker.

For Damien Holt, who runs Five Rise Nursing Home in Bingley, monitoring and managing the mental health of residents now they are unable to see family members is a priority.


The home has hit headlines in recent years due to its ‘memory lane’ feature, designed to help people living with dementia.

He explained: “We have set up Skype sessions for residents to call their loved ones and are looking at alternative forms of communication such as pen pals with local schoolchildren to still allow residents a chance to maintain a sense of purpose and feel linked to the community in these difficult times. We are emailing weekly photos and updates and passing messages and letters from family through this form of communication.

“As an alternative we are also in discussions with local solo musicians and musical moments to do solo music acts and sessions on our external garden porch for residents to listen and watch through the lounge windows. We hope these actions will allow some normality to our residents in these difficult times."

He added: “Currently our work force is strong and loyal and doing a fantastic job.

"We are over recruiting in all departments to back fill positions if members of the work force sadly contract the disease, however we pray this does not happen. PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) supplies remain adequate in the home and we have had a small supply of equipment from the NHS emergency team though are working hard to maintain our stocks.”

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The home is now in full isolation, with only staff able to go to and from work.

Konrad Czajka, chairman of the Bradford Care Association (BCA) and managing director of the Saltaire-based Czajka Care Group, said the BCA has been working closely with its members to share best practice and to ensure latest Government guidelines are being followed.

He said: “Our industry is already highly experienced in infection control, with stringent policies and procedures in place across every aspect of daily life.

"From the medicines we administer, to the personal care we provide, to the food we prepare and serve alongside the regular cleaning and maintenance of every communal and personal space, right through to how laundry and linen is processed and washed – there is a policy, procedure, training and review of everything that we do.

“Homes will obviously continue with the excellent hand and personal hygiene policies that are already in place, as well as taking extra precautions at every level to protect our residents and staff.

“To minimise the risk of transmission of Covid-19 members of the BCA have been reviewing their visiting policies, and following the most recent Government guidelines, have restricted all non-essential visitors. In order to minimise the impact of these restrictions, technology is allowing us to overcome this temporary change with the use of Facetime, Skype calls and social media all playing their part in keeping people connected.

“Acting in the best interests of the safety of our residents, staff, suppliers and our local communities is paramount, and something the care industry is extremely well-placed to do."

He added: “The issue of recruitment for the industry is an ongoing one, with the majority of BCA members already having temporary and permanent roles available in care, catering, housekeeping and other roles so it’s a big focus area. As key staff need to self-isolate, combined with an increased demand for services due to Covid-19, it’s important that we welcome a new influx of people into certain roles from other industries that are experiencing a temporary downturn, after providing them with comprehensive and specialist training.

"Alongside this, the industry also still needs more medically trained people, liked registered nurses and those with previous experience, and we are all working on ways to ensure that we can meet this demand together.”