Care home manager speaks of "amazing community support and her "roller-coaster emotions" after nine residents die from Covid 19

A care home manager has spoken of the “dedication of staff” and her “roller-coaster of emotions” as nine residents died of Covid 19.

Anita Astle, MBE of the Wren Hall nursing home, Selston, said the past few weeks when four men and five women died from deadly coronavirus had been “a heartbreaking” experience taking her to “rock bottom.”

But, the “amazing support” from her “dedicated staff” and the “care and generosity” of the wider community which pitched into help had massively lifted spirits.

The first person to die at the home, was a man on March 24. He had fractured his hip and was taken into hospital. He was later diagnosed with the illness and died. Just a few days later two more people started with symptoms and died.

Since the virus has took hold, 27 residents “or family members” as they are known affectionately, have been ill. The youngest resident affected was 42, nine people in total have died, and six people have recently recovered, including one woman aged 102.

Anita said the home which usually accommodated 54 residents, usually had around 147 staff – but at one point, staffing dip to around 57 when many were self-isolating, or had become ill themselves.

“At one point, we only had 57 staff on, many of them were off, either ill or understandably frightened for themselves or their own families.

“It’s been an unbelievable, a roller coaster of emotions for us all, we’ve gone from the depths of despair, thinking we were coping with it all on our own, to being amazed and elated at the amount of community support we have received. Even the little things like an email or a card helped enormously.”

“We’ve had school children making PPE equipment, hand sanitisers and toiletries donated, people raiding sheds for masks they use for DIY, cards, chocolates, the Ashfield MP sourced 1,000 masks at a point when I was distraught, we were running out and I was faced with putting my staff at risk with no equipment.”

She added “I cannot praise my dedicated staff enough, they have gone above and beyond the call of duty, I am so proud of them, and they have done an amazing job. For many it has been a worry, leaving their families to care for others, and many have young children, but they have done it.“This virus has made people having to make very difficult decisions. We couldn’t see people not being able to say goodbye to their loved ones, so we would kit them out in PPE. It has been horrendous.”

Anita is hoping the home has seen the worst of the virus but said it was too soon to let their guard down.

She said “I think we may be ahead of other care homes and I am hoping we’ll be over it soon, maybe we’ll have perhaps another six weeks, as we started with it so early on,” she said.

She added: “Despite it being an awful time, there is so much genuine kindness, and I hope people will come out of this tragic situation as a more caring community. Thanks to everyone.”