Care home staff star in film about life under lockdown

Pendine Park staff take part in a short film made by Wrexham Museum ‘for posterity’ on life under lockdown in Wrexham County Borough during Spring 2020. Pictured is Danielle Edwards; senior care practitioner during filming. Picture Mandy Jones

Staff at a care organisation will have a starring role in a new film about life under lockdown.

The documentary is being produced by Wrexham Museum to chronicle how local people coped with the coronavirus crisis.

Among those being featured are staff at Pendine Park who are on the frontline in protecting their much-loved residents.

They told how locking down early and extensive training had been at the heart of their approach to tackling the pandemic.

Residents are getting creative to keep their spirits, with arts and music being used to counter the emotional and practical impacts of dealing with daily life during the national crisis.

They’re keeping in touch with their families via iPads and morale has also been boosted by musical messages of support from the Hallé orchestra, who are regular visitors in normal times, and Sir Bryn Terfel and his wife, Hannah, a former royal harpist.

According to the museum’s exhibitions officer, Jonathan Gammond, they were working with Rossett-based video and film company, Knew Productions, to make the film.

Jonathan said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the whole of society but care homes, in particular, have been right at the centre of the news agenda and everyone seems to keen to know how the care sector has responded to the challenges created by the pandemic.

“In years to come people are going to be looking back at the pandemic and will want to know how it was managed.

“By making this film we hope to have a permanent record which will be available for research or be an educational tool for schools.”

“I was keen to know from Pendine Park staff how the lockdown had affected residents and staff, what changes had been put in place, what was the biggest challenges and how staff responded and whether there had been any, perhaps unexpected, rewards from the wider community.

“The interviews with the Pendine Park staff that participated in the filming were superb and really give a flavour of the problems that had to be overcome to keep both residents and staff safe. I’m delighted with the result.”

Tracey Cuthill, the  manager of Penybryn Care Home which now incorporates Bryn Bella Care Home, enjoyed taking part in the film making process.

She said: “I’m so proud of how we, as a care organisation, have tackled the virus from the outset. I think rather than be afraid of the virus we confronted it head on. “We ensured all staff had extensive training, there is a daily briefing for the whole organisation. No secrets or half-truths, just facts. And of course, we locked down much earlier than most which has helped keep the virus out.

“We have also put really robust practices in place including the wearing of face masks, taking the temperature of visitors that need to enter the care homes as well as staff and residents. But it’s the introduction of toolkit training that has helped most.

“That training has ensured that staff know how to correctly put on items of personal protection equipment (PPE) and importantly how to safely take it off, where the virus can survive and on what surfaces it survives longest. And how hand hygiene is vitally important.”

Tracey explained that Penybryn is a 70-bed unit that predominately cares for younger adults with physical disabilities resulting from head or brain injuries as well as Huntington’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis and that presented different challenges than many other care homes.

She said: “As we are working with relatively young service users mainly with a physical disability maintaining a positive structured routine has been really important.

“We have maintained a high level of our enrichment programme while increasing training for staff giving them the knowledge they need to keep residents safe has helped.

“Our care staff have been amazing and gone above and beyond the call of duty. They have embraced the additional training, not been afraid to ask questions and ensured they kept themselves safe away from the care home so residents are protected.”

Senior care practitioner Danielle Edwards, who has worked at Pendine Park for 12 years was pleased to be able to add something to the film.

She said: “It will be important in years to come to look back and see how we dealt with things in the care sector during what has been an awful health crisis.

“ It’s been hard for residents and staff but our number one priority has been keeping residents safe, occupied and together.

“ We have been lucky as PPE hasn’t been a problem. We know some places have struggled but our owners and managers were on top of the crisis from the word go.

“We had sinks installed outside every home and everyone who entered has to wash their hands first and has the temperature taken. All these things helped.”

Artist in residence Sarah Edwards said: “The Coronavirus pandemic has seen us all have to tackle so many challenges. I’ve continued working on enrichment and making sure residents still have access to the arts.

“We’ve worked with residents to create rainbow art work which is now on display around the site. The rainbow fast became a symbol of the battle against the virus.”

 “We have also created yellow ribbons out of recycled plastic wrappings which we have tied around trees at the Summerhill site as a sign of hope and created a huge poppy display to celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE day.

“Our task has been made much easier thanks to the support of the local community and businesses who have donated everything from cakes and pizzas to PPE and iPads. We could not be more grateful nor more appreciative.”

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