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Vaccinations and hope for family visits raise spirits at Kildare nursing home

The red carpet was rolled out on the day residents and staff received their first dose of the vaccine at Craddock House.

Susan Tutty (left) and Betty O Shea, residents at Craddock Nursing Home in Naas
Susan Tutty (left) and Betty O Shea, residents at Craddock Nursing Home in Naas
Image: Craddock Nursing Home/PA Images

STAFF AND RESIDENTS at a nursing home in Co Kildare have spoken of their hope of having in-person visits from family members and vaccinated visitors.

The HSE is considering easing restrictions on visitors to nursing homes as infection rates drop in care homes.

Visits to nursing homes have been restricted to compassionate grounds since Christmas.

Every resident and staff member at Craddock House Nursing Home in Naas have received both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine and hope to see family members soon.

Brid Gallagher, assistant director of nursing and owner of the home, said: “To have a resumption of visiting will give residents a huge boost and will hopefully be something to look forward to on a weekly basis.”

Mary Darker, activities coordination manager at Craddock House, said the vaccinations had lifted the spirits of residents.

She said: “We are hoping we can host more outdoor events and have visits from families. It will help get us back to some more normality.”

The red carpet was rolled out on the day residents and staff received their first dose of the vaccine, which was also marked with glasses of champagne.

2.58547242 Paddy and Maura Travers have received both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine

Darker added: “We made the vaccines day a special one, so we lined the red carpet with balloons and took pictures of the residents with their vaccine certificate. It was a big occasion.”

Hope for the future contrasts with a year of challenges and strain on nursing homes across the country.

For many, one of the biggest challenges was the lack of contact between residents and family members.

“Contact for us is the most important thing and gives residents the most comfort,” Ms Darker said.

“We found wearing masks challenging as a lot of the residents are hard of hearing and found it difficult to communicate.

“We did as much as we could to bring them comfort through different entertainment like WhatsApp video calls.

2.58547241 Residents George and Nellie Conlon Source: Craddock Nursing Home/PA

“We brought in new iPads and tablets so they could call their families and they proved to be a great hit. They were an essential part in keeping the communication open for the residents.

“At the beginning it was a bit confusing, but when they heard a family member’s voice it was amazing to watch. They might not have the ability to see the screen but once they heard the voice you could see the delight.

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“They got so used to it and now it’s second nature to them.”

Gallagher said the third lockdown, introduced at Christmas, had been the most difficult.

“It’s felt like the longest and more drawn out of the lockdowns,” she said.

“The arrival of the vaccine was a welcomed and celebrated occasion and it has given us a feeling of hope and expectation. While things didn’t change on the ground, it gave that feeling of hope. It’s another step on the journey.”

She praised the staff in their efforts to fill the void of having no visitors.

“The staff have done a remarkable job to date,” she added.

“In all our 22 years we never had five married couples living together at the nursing home. The couples didn’t get to see each other because of Covid and so the spouses decided to move in.

“So on Valentine’s Night we organised a dinner for the couples and hung pictures of their wedding day – it was like going on a date.

“We also did afternoon tea events and an outdoor Christmas grotto so the grandchildren could come and visit. It has helped keep their spirits up.”

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