Weathering the COVID-19 storm
The men and women living at Carinity Karinya Place know the meaning of resilience well.
Theirs is a generation which has lived through wars, endured drought and natural disasters and survived economic upheaval.
So, when the residents of the Laidley aged care community faced another crisis – COVID-19 – they took it in their stride.
A single case of a Karinya Place employee testing positive for coronavirus in September resulted in residents and 11 staff being required to quarantine.
Carinity staff from as far away as the Gold Coast, Brisbane and Ipswich volunteered to work at Karinya Place and help ensure the continuity of care for residents.
Hospitality students from Carinity Education Southside in Brisbane jumped at the chance to support the residents and chaplains from Toowoomba and Brisbane doubled their contact hours to support Karinya Place residents.
Chaplain Greg Murphy witnessed the resilience of residents and “the attitudes of the staff and their humility and pleasantness” in trying circumstances.
“Staff were only allowed to come to work and then go home and not go anywhere else … so effectively over that 14 days they were in isolation,” Greg said.
“They all had to be COVID tested multiple times, no questions asked. The attitude was, ‘This is what we have to do, so we do it’. That sense of ‘we’re all in this together’ stood out to me.”
With safety the priority, staff wore personal protective equipment such as facemasks and disposable overalls each time they entered a resident room, creating a demanding environment for staff.
“To go into a room to take a temperature or deliver a meal, meant the number of hours of labour required to do things wearing protective gear was incredible,” Greg said.
“Every standard job was made more difficult. It almost doubled the workload for the staff. There was quite a bit of tension around that. It could have been quite exhausting. The residents were just applauding the staff.”
Community groups and local businesses also came together to support Karinya Place. IGA Supa Laidley supermarket purchased magazines from the local newsagency and delivered them free with other supplies.
A craft group from Bridgeman Baptist Community Church in Brisbane sprung into action making care packs, each containing puzzles, activity books, snacks and handmade items, for each resident.
“We’ve done a lot of sewing for Carinity for the aged care homes before, but this was quite different because we realised that the residents were isolated,” craft group member Ngaire Phipps explained.
“That touched our hearts, so we wanted to do anything to bring a little sunshine and happiness to them. Through the blessing of being able to give to other people we end up being blessed ourselves.”
Three rounds of negative COVID tests for residents and staff meant they could exit quarantine.
“Those two weeks were a very trying time for residents, their families and friends and Karinya Place staff. Carinity was buoyed by support and prayers from the community,” Carinity CEO Jon Campbell said.
“The professionalism and diligence of our staff, to continue their fantastic care for our residents during a very difficult time, was exemplary.
“Their dedication really amplified the core Christian values of our organisation: sharing Jesus’s love for those in need.”
Acting Karinya Place Residential Manager Mark Lister was overwhelmed by the support from Carinity and government health officials.
“Everybody pulled out all stops to support Karinya Place in its time of need. There was not one request that went unanswered,” Mark said.
Queensland Chief Health Officer, Jeannette Young, publicly praised Carinity’s preparedness and response to a COVID case.
“Because of the process that was put in place getting aged care facilities to prepare their facilities, to manage the risk, to use PPE, the risk to that facility was very low,” she said.
“The work that was done to protect the Laidley aged care facility means the risk for those residents is so much less. They knew exactly what to do and it worked beautifully.”
As we know, sunshine and rainbows appear after the most savage of storms.
Soon after the end of lockdown, residents learned that their gardening project, undertaken with local school students, was one of three finalists for a national Future of Ageing Award.