Nursing home’s ‘new normal’


PRE-PANDEMIC The owners of the Pilgrims’ Rest Nursing Home, Westport, Pauline Mulroy and Noel Marley in more relaxed times. Pic: Michael McLaughlin

Áine Ryan

AS winter approaches and the ‘new normal’ becomes a way-of-life in the Pilgrims’ Rest Nursing Home, Westport, Noel Marley is in a positive and hopeful mood. There may be all sorts of additional administrative duties to ensure the 30 plus residents who live at this home-away-from-home are kept safe from the coronavirus pandemic but he says his dedicated staff have become very very well attuned and trained in all the extra measures to keep their vulnerable older people safe over the last six months, since the pandemic struck in Ireland.
Whilst the ‘No Visitors’ regime of mid-March has been somewhat eased since the middle of the summer, a raft of ongoing regulations means life is still not quite what it was a year ago.  
“It is great that a nominated relative can visit our nursing home now a couple of times a week but this has to be strictly controlled for contact tracing purposes. Each visitor must fill out a detailed form, have their temperature taken on arrival, wear a mask and sanitise their hands,” Noel Marley explains.
He is the co-owner of the Pilgrims’ Rest Nursing Home with his wife, Pauline Mulroy, who came out of retirement during the early months of the pandemic to head-up the nursing and care team at the Barley Hill premises.
“All our visitors are really very accepting that our residents – their relatives – are vulnerable and, indeed, some of them have even offered to be randomly tested for the virus as an extra precaution,” he told The Mayo News.
Explaining that some activities and services have returned since restrictions were eased, such as visits by hairdressers and chiropractors, unsurprisingly though there are no music or singing afternoons for the foreseeable future.
However, life is a bit more relaxed as residents are now able to mix a little more at mealtimes which they obviously enjoy as many of them strike up great friendships with each other and the care team, Noel Marley explains.
“Staff are primarily governed by infection prevention and control policies which continue to involve daily temperature checks on their arrival and proper PPE use with regular hand sanitisation. We also have a clear monitoring system identifying any signs of symptoms of the illness amongst residents.”
Notwithstanding all the new challenges, morale is very high in the nursing home, he says.  
“It is amazing how resilient people are and how they can see and appreciate the benefit of all their hard work and care.”
He says that ‘obviously as winter approaches’ they are on ‘higher alert’ than they may have been this time last year which, ironically, means there may be lower incidents of ‘flu in the coming months.
“While the winter may be fraught with anxiety because some of the symptoms are similar, everyone has become so vigilant and aware of the dangers of Covid-19, we are hoping and, in fact, hearing from other nursing homes that the incidents of flu may be less than other years because of all the measures that we have now become used to,” Noel Marley adds.