While the rest of the UKs care homes maintain a ‘physical fortress’ preventing relatives from seeing their loved ones; one care home has bucked the trend. Sheer determination and innovation has allowed Birkdale Park Nursing Home in Southport to maintain precious relationships between relatives and their loved ones.
Ex Forces Care Manager Jonathan Cunningham MBE said, ‘I’m not going to sit and watch people’s lives ebb away in horrific isolation. These gorgeous people need affection and love; I the face of limited time. We are all born to connect and Birkdale Park has used the opportunity to enable relationships not keep them distanced on the other side of a screen or window. COVID is not going away soon so we have to learn to live with it. This can be manged safely with abit of imagination. Our residents need the love of their relatives for their mental and physical wellbeing.’
Jonathan created a ‘Volunteer Army’ with his relatives so that they were able to be legitimately swabbed and tested on a weekly basis. Becoming members of volunteer staff allowed him to permit essential visitor access for his relatives to see their loved ones. This includes indoor visits to a bedside of those who are bedbound and even to sit with their loved one for a trip in the home’s rickshaw and enjoy an trip along the Southport Promenade. Normal PPE, hand washing and safety precautions are maintained. The feedback from the relatives has been overwhelming and supported Jonathan’s efforts to protect their human rights in the face of COVID lockdown.
This is a home that has not allowed COVID to determine the care and loving relationships of their residents and their loved ones. It is considered that Birkdale Park is the only home in the UK that has boldly taken this move to look after its resident’s mental wellbeing.
Jonathan said, ‘I cannot believe that some care homes remain closed 8 months after the start of the pandemic. This is an absolute disgrace and a clear demonstration of poorly managed closed care cultures using COVID as an excuse of convenience. The recent announcement that the Government may permit care home visiting by Christmas is welcomed but regardless Birkdale Park is already facilitating peoples loving relationships now. I’m not waiting – The Government needs to catch up!’