Carrigoran House is a centre which provides the full continuum of elder care at Newmarket-on-Fergus, Co. Clare, Ireland.

By Sister Marisa Revert Font, CCVI

During the COVID-19 Pandemic families and friends of Carrigoran residents have had to adapt and be flexible as the rules of the game are changing almost day by day. During the initial lockdown on March 2020, visits were suspended and residents and families endured weeks of limited communication. This was mitigated by the availability of a list to sign up for Skype calls which was used by many relatives. This was meaningful even in the case of patients with some degree of dementia. But it was hard for all. We are blessed with wonderful caring staff at Carrigoran and that made a lot of difference. The beauty shop was closed and after a few weeks some residents were having really “bad hair days”. Some of the carers are very good hairdressers too, so they started placing rolls on the ladies’ hair and that helped a lot, and increased their morale.

Once the restrictions eased, in the summer, visitors were allowed in following the social distancing rules. Visits happened at the alcoves near the inner garden. Each alcove was dedicated to one unit and it was sanitized after each visitor left. Prior to entry, the visitor had the standard screening questions and a temperature check.  I was privileged to see and hear the expressions of the elderly when they saw their beloved relative for the first time after months. It was such joy!  First, only one visitor could come once a week for half an hour, and then it was increased to two visitors for an hour, always keeping social distance.  That allowed the grandchildren to come. Could not get better!

Unfortunately, during the last weeks new restrictions have come in place and we had to move from visits indoors to visits outdoors through the windows.  It is a bit cold but families do not hesitate to come and warm the hearts of their loved ones.

The most challenging time during this pandemic was when a resident was passing away during the initial lockdown and families could only ring or view how their relative was being anointed through a WhatsApp video.  During this second lockdown that we just started, restriction rules on visitors to nursing homes make exceptions for critical or compassionate reasons, thanks be to God!

Recently, as a way to show appreciation to the staff that has been so dedicated and so conscious three delicious free meals were provided at the canteen at different times. Some staff shared that they have even limited their visits to their own relatives in order to minimize the risk of bringing the COVID-19 virus from the community to Carrigoran.

This time has not been easy on anybody but this evening as I went for my walk I saw a rainbow, this beautiful sign of God’s presence that only occurs when there is both rain and sunshine.

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