The Connaught - COVID-19 Newsletter

We go in search of a highly treasured generation to see how they are faring in lockdown.

They're older and wiser and the resilient residents of The Connaught are handling lockdown just fine, thank you very much.

Yes it's tough not having visits from the army of people, locked down themselves, who want to see family and old chums.

But these are respected members of Alderney's community, some of whom have seen it all before including the few who are original homecomers. They're tough, and they also have a sense of humour.

But before we delve into what's happening at Lockdown Connaught, here's a bit of background. It used to be called the Royal Connaught but lest you think it's for the Upper Crust only, it's been changed to plain and simple The Connaught. So much more inclusive of all the community services that are delivered.

Here's the operations manager Liz Bowskill on the subject: "We provide all of the social care services for older adults across Alderney and we currently look after 40 residents within the residential care home, 28 domiciliary care clients (which can range from one or two visits per day to a full four visits per day), 20 meals-on-wheels and, up until the lockdown, we also provided day care, a bathing service and served as a community hub."

That's impressive and essential in a community with such a high percentage of the older generation.

"Unfortunately," adds Liz, "we have had to stop the older adults in our community coming into the Connaught and now offer more peripatetic services in people's homes. We have seen an increase in both Home Care and Meals-on-Wheels as local informal support arrangements are reduced or stopped where the friends and neighbours offering support were encouraged to lockdown themselves.

"I was surprised to find a number of cases of people not previously known to our services who had a robust team of informal carers already in place. Only in Alderney have I ever seen such a supportive community."

How lockdown works

Beryl's Message to Alderney
Beryl's Message to Alderney

The Connaught has been working very closely with Age Concern, the Alderney-specific Social Worker from Guernsey, Alderney Spirit, IMC and MMH to try to ensure the right support and care is getting to right people at the right time.

This has meant converting offices in the Connaught to rooms to take admissions from the MMH, identifying Alderney's most vulnerable people, and either arranging telephone support from an Alderney Spirit volunteer or in a couple of cases secure funding from Age Concern for meals-on-wheels or home care while awaiting benefit entitlements to come through.

Liz again: "We have been blessed with an overwhelming response and support from Alderney Spirit, incredible support from telephone contacts for the isolated in the community, dog walkers, meals-on-wheels drivers and we even have a volunteer who comes in and supports the housekeeping staff disinfecting door handles, pushing cleaning above and beyond infection control standards."

And the residents?

"This has been a challenging few weeks for the residents," says Liz, "some of whom don't fully appreciate why we are not advising them to go out as they are not able to keep themselves safe.

"One or two individuals are fully able to understand the risks, social distancing and the need to keep physically and mentally active, and therefore we do support them undertaking their daily 'constitutional', as my grandfather used to say!

"Despite the underlying anxiety and concerns the residents have when listening to worldwide news or speaking to their loved ones who live abroad, our community-within-a-community is a resilient group.

"We continue to have daily activities (albeit two metres apart). Just in the past week we have had chair yoga, a visit from the Easter Bunny, chocolate cocktail making, bingo, Art Club, a sing-song, and both a 'virtual' book club and 'virtual' church service.

"Our activity co-ordinator and her team do everything they can to keep spirits up during this difficult time. Relatives both on and off island are supported and encouraged to use information technology to communicate, and most importantly see, their relatives as well as visit our Facebook site or website to see what their loved ones are up to."

'Only in Alderney have I ever seen such a supportive community'
'Only in Alderney have I ever seen such a supportive community'

Keeping in touch

The Connaught works closely with Barbara Benfield and Age Concern and has been amazed by the response to her appeal for letters to be written by children and young people; the residents will no doubt delight in receiving these letters and pictures.

"We will enjoy working with our residents to send replies to these young people and let them know what life is like for older adults locked down in Alderney," said Liz.

"None of this could have been achieved without an amazing and dedicated team both in the community and within the care home facility. I am amazed when I watch them dance down the corridors respecting social distancing whenever they can, smiling and remaining upbeat even when they have their own concerns, anxieties and worries about the people they care for and their own loved ones.

"I write a managers brief every day to all staff to keep them in the picture locally, trying to allay any fears that are fed back to me, thank them wholeheartedly on behalf of the organisation and our clients, and I always encourage them to take time off and get the rest they need. They are a truly amazing team of people."

And finally (as the news readers used to say) what about PPE? The Connaught has aprons, some masks and loads of gloves, but probably not enough masks. Liz is working with Sue Price at the States to rectify this.

Alderney doffs its collective cap to these remarkable team players and the residents. We are all in this together, and we want you to know that we treasure every one of you.


Original from COVID-19 Newsletter