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Day in the life of Ross-shire care home manager reveals stress and massive challenge posed by coronavirus threat; Innis Mhor care home manager hails 'amazing team' in toughest of times


By Hector MacKenzie

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I wake up several times during the night and immediately check my phone each time in case I have missed any calls. In the morning, I arrive at work in a sheer panic that I am going to be told someone has COVID-19 symptoms.

I listen to the morning handover report and breathe a huge sigh of relief that everyone is okay, all symptom free. Why am I so worried? Not because I am worried about catching it, but because I have a responsibility and I am scared for these 40 beautiful residents and my staff who are all very much part of my family. Deep down I know that catching this terrible virus could be fatal for any of them.

Staff phone in with various cold symptoms but they are 90 per cent sure it’s just a cold. I tell them they have to stay home and self-isolate for 14 days because I cannot take that chance. I feel empathetic, as I know a lot of those staff cannot afford to be off work, but I also cannot play Russian roulette with my residents’ lives.

Now short staffed, I pull my uniform on and go out on the floor to work, back to where I first started my career as a nurse in a care home 16 years ago. I soon find my feet again; I forgot how much I enjoyed being a nurse.

I tell them they have to stay home and self-isolate for 14 days because I cannot take that chance. I feel empathetic, as I know a lot of those staff cannot afford to be off work, but I also cannot play Russian roulette with my residents’ lives.

A resident becomes unwell with non-coronavirus symptoms. I call the GP, knowing fine that I have to have as many details as possible as they are effectively relying on me to diagnose what I think is wrong. A prescription is prepared; then there is a feeling of dread again as I realise someone is going to have to go to the chemist to pick this up. They may be exposed to the virus, and this in turn could lead to exposure of the virus in the home.

A resident comes into my office and gives me a hug, which in normal times is completely natural. But I flinch, not because I don’t want to hug them, I just pray to God that I don’t have this virus and have now exposed them in any way.

Family members are keen to get in touch via FaceTime. I sit with the residents and do several video calls through the day. I feel joy when the resident is happy to see their family, and also the happiness and sadness in the faces of the family members who are missing their mums and dads. I feel every one of their emotions.

It’s coming to the end of the day and I am now anxious that I have done everything I should have done. I go through the day in my head and check and recheck that I have completed all the necessary care notes and reports and that I have enough staff for the next day.

I turn off my computer and go out the front door, breathe in the fresh air and feel thankful that we have all survived another day. I get in the car and my worry starts again, but this time I worry about my son, my daughter, my own mum and dad, my partner, my sisters and all other family.

But despite all of these emotions, I have a lot to be thankful for - thankful for the amazing team of staff supporting me to keep the residents safe at this time, thankful of my family checking in on me daily, thankful for the lovely messages from families and hopeful that this will all be over soon.

Related: Care homes boss speaks of 'biggest ever challenge'

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