Community Champions at Cork nursing home created a clever way to keep families connected during lockdown

Community Champions at Cork nursing home created a clever way to keep families connected during lockdown

CareChoice Ballynoe Nursing Home resident Kathleen Thompson with her daughter, Christine and granddaughter Sarah in The Snug.

CareChoice Ballynoe Nursing Home in White Church noticed residents were beginning to feel isolated following visitor restrictions as per the HSE guidance.

In a bid to keep families connected, the idea of 'The Snug' was born.

Director of Nursing, Gráinne Henson, describes The Snug as "a lean-to, replicating a sitting room for residents to meet their loved ones through the protection of a closed window". 

"With all residents, including those with dementia in mind, The Snug is designed to look like a sitting room and promotes the feel of residents being in the same room as their visitors, as they look out of the window at colourful wallpaper and walls decorated with everyday items you would find in any sitting room; a clock, lamp, chairs and side table. 

'The Snug' at CareChoice Ballynoe Nursing Home.
'The Snug' at CareChoice Ballynoe Nursing Home.

"Outside the window are several high stools for families to sit on, relax and catch up with their loved ones, blow kisses through the window, even celebrate a birthday in style with the cutting of a birthday cake together," Ms Henson continued. 

Visitors are protected from wind, rain or sun with by fully roofed lean-to, which is wiped clean after every use.

The Snug allowed residents to safely see and talk to their loved ones whilst maintaining all the social distancing requirements when visitor restrictions were in place.

Whilst The Snug is not being used as much as it was now that restrictions have eased up slightly, it still remains in place for families to use if they would like.

"The Snug was the brain-child of maintenance worker Brian Kelleher, who had the idea after he noticed that a few people came to the window to see their elderly relatives and left in tears as they couldn’t hear or speak to each other," Ms Henson said.

RN The greeting area at Ballynoe Nuring Home to give families a chance to see their loved ones.
RN The greeting area at Ballynoe Nuring Home to give families a chance to see their loved ones.

Speaking to The Echo, Mr Kelleher was modest about his efforts.

"It really was a team effort. It was tough to watch families getting upset when the visitor restrictions came in.

"We had a discussion about what we could do to make it a bit easier on people," he said.

"I came up with the idea and had it built in two days - I put my heart and soul into it," he continued.

Mr Kelleher explained that the activities team at the nursing home were key to the success of The Snug, decorating it and arranging the bookings for families.

The Snug was fitted with an intercom system which enabled residents to be able to talk freely with their loved ones without having to hold the phone.

Marie Dilworth from the activities team later designed a Bansky style street art piece on the perimeter of the snug, to welcome families as they park and enter.

Some of the staff at CareChoice Ballynoe Nursing Home who helped create The Snug. L-R: Brian Kelleher who came up with the idea and constructed The Snug, Sadie Allen in charge of the day to day running of The Snug and Marie Dilworth who did the decor.
Some of the staff at CareChoice Ballynoe Nursing Home who helped create The Snug. L-R: Brian Kelleher who came up with the idea and constructed The Snug, Sadie Allen in charge of the day to day running of The Snug and Marie Dilworth who did the decor.

It shows a person handing a heart from the upstairs window to a person in the window downstairs. 

"The passing of the heart from window to window symbolises what our home is all about, trusting the care of a loved one’s heart and happiness in these crisis times," said Ms Henson.

She praised the dedication of her team in their trojan efforts to try and mitigate the negative impact of social isolation during the crisis.

"Families really appreciated it and felt they were very lucky to have it," he said.  

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