Covid vaccine is bringing hope, says Christian care home

Residents at Pilgrim Gardens wave from the back of the building(Photo: Pilgrims' Friend Society)

The Covid-19 vaccine has brought "hope and relief" to staff and residents at care homes, says Christian charity Pilgrims' Friend Society. 

Over the weekend, the Government hit the deadline for its roll-out of the vaccine in the UK's top four priority groups, which included care homes. 

A total of 15 million people across the UK have now had the first dose of the vaccine, with the next phase of the roll-out already underway to offer a jab to 65s and over, and younger people in at-risk groups. 

Pilgrims' Friend Society welcomed the milestone achievement, but added that regular staff testing, PPE and non-contact visiting would continue to play a vital role in keeping everyone safe for some time to come. 

Vic Stone, Pilgrims' Friend Society Operations Manager and coronavirus lead said, "The completed roll-out of the vaccination across our homes a few weeks ago has brought a sense of hope, as well as relief and excitement at the prospect of returning to some normality by year end.

"There's light at the end of this long and extremely difficult tunnel where we have had to continue normal operations, while also managing PPE, stringent hygiene measures, staff shortages, testing and socially distanced visits – all under regular and rapid guidance changes.

"When I think of all that our care home managers have achieved with their staff - leaning on the grace of God and drawing strength from their own faith as well as that of our residents - I'm amazed and truly thankful for all their hard work."

At present, staff and volunteers at Pilgrims' care homes are tested three times a week. The charity said this would need to continue until the vaccine had been rolled out "extensively". 

Boris Johnson is to set out his roadmap for easing lockdown restrictions next week. Pilgrims' Friend Society is asking the Government to give care homes relevant guidance well in advance.  

"We hope the roadmap will include timely guidance for care homes, so we can be as prepared as possible," Stone continued.

"Since the pandemic began, we've often received guidance the night before the changes are due to be implemented, or on a Friday for a Monday roll-out.

"This understandably creates an immediate expectation among relatives for changes, when in reality we need more time to put the necessary procedures in place.

"We also would welcome news on the Infection Control Fund, which helps facilitate things like safe indoor visits, as this is due to run out in March.

"And finally, we hope to hear news on when we can look forward to hairdressers and other volunteers returning, as these are both great morale boosters for residents."