Mother and daugh­ters stay six weeks in nurs­ing home

Guinans lived in so they could pro­tect their own fam­i­lies and mind res­i­dents

The Irish Times - - Home News - Mar­tin Wall

A mother and two daugh­ters moved into a Dublin nurs­ing home for more than six weeks at the height of the Covid-19 pan­demic to look after res­i­dents.

Health­care as­sis­tants Claire Guinan and her two daugh­ters, mother-of-one Lau­ren and Me­gan, work at Loughshinn­y Res­i­den­tial Home, a 123-bed com­plex opened last year in Sk­er­ries, north Dublin.

Lau­ren left her three-year-old daugh­ter at home, who she saw only on video calls dur­ing her six-week stay.

Say­ing they had de­cided to stay for the safety of the home’s res­i­dents and their own fam­i­lies, Claire Guinan said: “It was re­ally strange not go­ing home. My hus­band was at home. Lau­ren’s part­ner was at home. They were out of work, too. Six weeks is a long time for a young child to be away from her mammy.”

The women’s stay had to be ex­tended when Lau­ren was di­ag­nosed with Covid-19 in mid-April after De­fence Forces medics tested Loughshinn­y res­i­dents and staff.

“We were hop­ing at that point to go home if we got a neg­a­tive re­sult. But I got a pos­i­tive re­sult. I was asymp­to­matic. I had no symp­toms. I was com­pletely un­aware that I had con­tracted Covid. I could not be­lieve it.”

Staff di­ag­nosed as pos­i­tive were im­me­di­ately moved “away from res­i­dents and other per­son­nel”.

Hav­ing lost her sense of taste and smell, but with­out a high tem­per­a­ture, she be­gan 14 days of iso­la­tion in the home.

“I was up­stairs. They used to come around, stand on chairs and talk to me through the win­dow. My part­ner came down and parked his car around the back and talked to me through the win­dow.”

The days passed slowly, helped by Net­flix and books.

Tough

Look­ing back, the three women say the time was “tough”, es­pe­cially when they saw res­i­dents who they were close to strug­gling.

“It was so dif­fi­cult to see fam­i­lies stand­ing at the win­dows, look­ing at their loved ones through a win­dow. We could not open the win­dows,” said Lau­ren

Like other nurs­ing homes, vis­its ended in early March so many res­i­dents were lonely. Staff did not want them to be, so they “were con­stantly gear­ing up in PPE [per­sonal pro­tec­tive equip­ment] and go­ing in [to rooms]”.

On oc­ca­sions, some of the most frail did not recog­nise PPE-equipped staff who some­times wept as they left their rooms.

Each of the res­i­dents who died were re­mem­bered.

“We would re­mem­ber how they did this or that. It would help you a lit­tle bit,” said Claire.

Ex­press­ing im­mense pride in his team, Bar­tra Health­care chief ex­ec­u­tive De­clan Car­lyle said they had put them­selves and their fam­i­lies sec­ond to the well­be­ing of res­i­dents.

The de­scrip­tion of their ac­tions as be­ing above and be­yond the call of duty did not do them jus­tice, he added.

Re­fer­ring to a dis­pute with the Health Ser­vice Ex­ec­u­tive over the num­ber of coro­n­avirus-re­lated con­firmed and prob­a­ble deaths at the nurs­ing home, he said he very much re­gret­ted the hurt and mis­trust that had been brought about by the con­fu­sion in­volved.

Re­view

The HSE has crit­i­cised The Ir­ish Times for pub­lish­ing those fig­ures which it said rep­re­sented a snap­shot in time that was con­stantly be­ing su­per­seded as more ac­cu­rate data be­comes avail­able.

Mr Car­lyle said Bar­tra had spared no cost in its fight against the virus but, de­spite its ef­forts and sim­i­lar to many other high-qual­ity care cen­tres, the virus man­aged to en­ter.

Those in­volved in de­flect­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity sim­ply caused fur­ther dis­tress and hurt for all in­volved. “We pa­tiently await the re­view and the learn­ings that will arise.”

He said their ef­forts would con­tinue and, in time, they would gather with the com­mu­nity to re­mem­ber “those loved ones lost to this aw­ful virus”.

Say­ing that some of her friends thought she was “crazy” for mov­ing into the nurs­ing home at the height of the cri­sis, Me­gan Guinan has no re­grets.

“It is an im­por­tant job. Some­one needed to be there. The res­i­dents needed peo­ple to be here and that is what we did. We were here.”

PHO­TO­GRAPH: CRISPIN ROD­WELL

Car­ers Claire Guinan (cen­tre) and her daugh­ters Me­gan and Lau­ren who moved into Bar­tra Health­care’s Loughshinn­y nurs­ing home in north Dublin to help pro­tect the res­i­dents against Covid-19.

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