Like the whole world, none of us at Aveley Lodge could have predicted the uncertain and unprecedented times that lay ahead of us at the start of 2020. During February, we watched with bated breath how this little-known and little-understood virus (bizarrely named after a famous brand of beer or sounds like a droid out of Star Wars), went on its ever-relenting campaign around the world and we started to think about what we at Aveley Lodge would need to do if it took hold here in the UK. Our first and foremost priority was ensuring our lovely residents and our wonderful staff were kept safe.
“We all have a fear of the unknown. What one does with that fear will make all the difference in the world” L. Russell
By the 26th February, we started to ask all our visitors on arrival at Aveley Lodge where they had been on their travels; not because we wanted to hear about their travel tales, how tedious their flight was or where the finest pina colada could be found, but because we needed to know if they had by any chance come into contact with Coronavirus. We then started to ask people to stay away unless it was necessary to visit our home, something we have never in the history of Aveley Lodge asked anyone to do. Normally we have open visiting times and embrace visitors over a cup of tea and freshly made slice of cake but now we were having to be careful about someone’s very presence on our own doorstep, frightened to go anywhere near them for fear of an invisible entity and the disastrous consequences if we didn’t check people properly. By the 18th March, we informed relatives not to visit if possible and if so, only one person could do so via an appointment system. As is well known, keeping residents happy and healthy is not just about making sure they are physically well, but mentally and socially too and by promoting and keeping relationships with their friends and family going, is extremely important. Meanwhile, we were trying to keep our staff safe and fighting an enormous battle to get hold of our basic but essential personal protective equipment (PPE) that was being sold at over-inflated prices. Then on the 21st March we made the very hardest decision and one we never thought we’d ever have to make…we closed our home completely to all but essential medical professionals. Aveley Lodge was in lockdown and two days later, the whole country went into lockdown.
“You never realise how strong you are, until being strong is the only choice you have” Bob Marley
While the outside world tried to adapt to the new way of existing, coping without toilet rolls and understanding terms such as social distancing, furloughed and carrying out zoom calls, life carried on as normal as possible within Aveley Lodge. We still celebrated birthdays, Easter, St Georges Day, May Day and VE Day albeit in a different way to what was planned. Our staff adapted to changes in shift patterns, the extra PPE and new ways of life both at home and at work. Despite the nationwide food shortages, our fantastic local community here in Fingringhoe and surrounding areas rallied together and helped us with much needed supplies. We will forever be thankful to all the individuals who dropped off items for our staff and residents, especially all the goodies and pick-me-ups that were dropped off just to show our residents and staff they were being thought about. Several generous people also came to our aid by making ear protectors, hair coverings and bags for our staff to keep them safe and comfortable while carrying out their duties. Fruit baskets, flowers, chocolates, afternoon teas and beauty gifts along with many cards have been sent to us to thank us for our hard work and keeping the residents safe and extremely well cared for. These have all helped to keep our spirits high, feel appreciated and to continue doing the best job we can looking after our residents.
“Often times, the brightest rainbows follow the darkest rainstorms.” – Unknown
While the UK clapped for the NHS workers every Thursday night, we encouraged people to clap for our hardworking carers too. Our residents painted rocks for a stone trail around the local village to keep peoples spirits up during their one hours allotted daily exercise. They made a piece of artwork together for the local hospital to be presented and displayed when lockdown is lifted to say thank you to the NHS for what they have done during this crisis. Here at Aveley Lodge, being part of our family means you are part of something wonderful and means you will love and be loved for the rest of your life no matter what. So despite the virus finally taking hold within the home, like a raging river, we all went into this together, we got through it together, there were some casualties but we made it out the other side and we are now looking ahead to a brighter albeit socially distanced, future together on the other side.