With one third of all nursing homes in Ireland recording a diagnosis of COVID-19 and many of them recording deaths, the virus has wreaked havoc in normally tranquil and peaceful elder care facilities.
For those who have lost loved ones in nursing homes over the past month or so to the virus it has been an awful time, the worst imaginable. No visits, no final good bye, no reposing, no gathering and only a restricted farewell. Families have been left heartbroken, bereaved and cheated by a cruel virus that targets our most loved, yet most vulnerable.
Lauding the consistently positive work ethos of nursing home staff, local Councillor, Aengus O’Rourke, acknowledged their “forgotten heroes” status.
“The forgotten heroes at the centre of this battle fighting a daily, no hourly, battle to protect our older loved ones in Nursing Homes are the owners and staff.
“A new daunting responsibility has landed on all their shoulders with out any warning. Never before have they experienced anything like the pressure they are enduring now. No amount of training or experience could have prepared them for the work they are doing right now.
“Looking after the health and well-being of our most vulnerable is a full-on and complex job at the best of times. However, now every time they open the door of the building they worry that the virus might smuggle it’s way in somehow and attack and potentially kill those in their care. Every action, task and step must be like walking in a field of landmines,” Cllr. O’Rourke remarked.
The Fianna Fáil Councillor referenced is personal family experience with regard to the high level of treatment and care being afforded to patients.
“I have a ninety year old aunt in a nursing home in Athlone. The care she and her fellow residents receive is second to none, however she is largely oblivious to the extent of the crisis or the risks it presents.
“Many residents in nursing homes, due to their own medical condition, are oblivious to the commotion nationally or around the world and the sad outcomes in so many nursing homes. At times like this you’d say thank God they are.
“But, for those who are aware, who read the papers and see the television news it must be very frightening. And, bear in mind they have already gone weeks without seeing a loved one in the flesh, and naturally they wonder will they ever again.
As a people we owe so much to the ‘front line’ men and women. They are keeping us safe in our hospitals and clinics, they are keeping our shops stocked and they are guiding us with accurate, helpful information. But for me the forgotten, understated heroes of this epidemic are those working in our nursing homes, caring for our vulnerable loved ones.
“Like the rest of us, they read and listen to all the reports on the hour every hour about the ‘clusters’ and mounting deaths in nursing homes across the country. While at the same time keeping a cool head, every day working hard in exceptional circumstances behaving normally to comfort the residents but knowing that outside, a deadly virus lurks. Thank you for what you do and take care,” Cllr. O’Rourke concluded.