Experiences with a Pandemic at Raglan Rest Home and Hospital

The Pandemic called Covid 19 came as a shock to New Zealand – it was certainly not where we expected to spend the last warm months of the season. At Raglan Rest Home and Hospital (RRHH) we took measures early and have kept reviewing them as things have changed – always seeking to find a balance between safety and human compassion.

To date we have been lucky – I say lucky as it hard to fight something you cannot visibly see – other facilities have not been so lucky, and we have deep compassion for them.

We had illness and death during the last weeks and months as we often do. Part of our place in this world is to walk alongside those who are at the end of their life journey and partner with family and friends to make the time the best it can be. It was heart-breaking having to restrict family at this time and we strived hard to get the balance right.

As part of the random testing of essential health workers we were all tested for Covid 19 and we were all negative – a few residents were tested during this time – and they were all negative too. I think going through the testing process, even though we were confident that we were all clear, was good learning for all of us about how the process feels.

We put into place a few innovations that we got good feedback about from the auditors – we encouraged staff to do their shopping through us so they (or their family) didn’t need to have exposure at the shops; we put a cabin in the carpark for people to drop things off and pick things up –  this allowed couriers  and family to exchange goods with zero contact and for goods to be decontaminated away from the building. The cabin was also used as accommodation for Staff on a few occasions; we had spare uniforms and staff could shower before going home if they desired.

Residents learnt a lot about technology as we kept families and church connected through video contact utilising Viber, FaceTime, Messenger, Zoom and Skype – concepts many had not used before. The Activities Co-ordinator continued working and innovated activities to suit the situation.

We held a moving ANZAC service and raised our flag on the new flagpole for the first time, then dined on ANZAC biscuits made by the Residents. We celebrated Easter, Mother’s Day, Frock day and Queens birthday. We have added three new budgies – Gary, Barney and Yogi- to the family in recent weeks.

We had a great volunteer pick-up the Meals on Wheels round as many of our usual volunteer drivers were in the “vulnerable group” and this was a service utilised by a wider cross section of the community than we would normally see.

One of the challenges has been our inability to take Residents for a short drive or transport them to Hospital by road when required – so our next goal is to find a way to purchase a van that can transport the heavier electric wheelchairs, that other vans in the community are unable to do and have it available for those times when people just want to “get out of the building”, as well as planned outings and the spontaneous trips to see the Orca passing through Raglan, or have a freshly rolled ice cream. Transporting people who wish to come and join in our day activities program would help those who are isolated participate.

So the journey continues and we remain cautious but optimistic  that we have seen the last of COVID 19 in New Zealand and we can soon unlock our doors and let all of you come back in and share the future with us

Maree – Raglan Rest Home and Hospital.