Extra care housing scheme residents adjusting to COVID-19 measures Thursday 7 May 2020

“The staff are amazing here – they always have a smile on their face, nothing is too much trouble for them and they connect with our families digitally for us to see them! This technology is great!”

Extra care housing scheme residents adjusting to COVID-19 measures

Those are the words of Grŵp Cynefin’s extra care scheme resident in Bala, 76-year-old Mrs Llywela Lloyd Pritchard. She is a lady whose glass is always half full, has a vivacious character and is young at heart.

“There’s no point complaining, we’re very fortunate to live in such a wonderful place, with caring staff working here and looking after us so well,” explains Mrs Pritchard who originally lived on a farm near Bala, and was widowed some years ago.

Awel y Coleg in Bala is home to older people who want to continue to live independently within a 30 comfortable flat complex. All tenants are supported with some requiring additional support via a specific care package.

Grŵp Cynefin has four extra care housing schemes across north Wales, with an additional scheme currently being built at Denbigh. They include Penucheldre, Holyhead, Anglesey; Hafod y Gest, Porthmadog, Gwynedd; Llys Awelon, Ruthin in Denbighshire and Awel y Coleg, in Bala run in partnership with Gwynedd Council.

Changes to procedures have taken place at all Grŵp Cynefin extra care housing schemes as a result of Covid-19. The purpose is to ensure that all staff members do their utmost to protect the residents, to the best of their abilities. The social areas, lounge, hobby room and restaurant where a variety of activities took place weekly, have all had to close their doors.

The aim now is to isolate tenants within their own flats and encourage them to exercise once a day. There is also an emphasis on social distancing, cleanliness and regular hand washing within each extra care housing scheme setting.

“In one sense, we are fortunate that everyone has their own front door,” explains Siân Ellis, Grŵp Cynefin’s Senior Older People’s Officer.

“The staff and tenants have done a great job adapting to the new ways of living and working here at Awel y Coleg. Each flat has a small table outside the door, so that meals can be placed on the tables and making it easier for staff to leave groceries, newspapers and letters for tenants to pick up at their convenience.”

One major change to Llywela Pritchard’s life is the fact that she does not see her family on a daily basis. Her daughter or grandchildren called in to see her daily, either for a chat before going to school, delivering groceries from the shop or to pop by for a cup of tea.

Due to the threat of Covid-19 in our communities, a strict policy is now in place at Awel y Coleg whereby no relatives or friends are allowed to visit.

“I’ve always loved writing letters,” explains Mrs Pritchard. “So I’ve re-started writing since these restrictions were imposed on us. I’m a grandmother of three children, Enion, Lliwen and Gwenith, and all three receive a letter from me twice a week.

“I had a conversation with the eldest grandson on the phone recently and asked him ‘how is your arm now? Has it improved?’ ‘What do you mean Nain?’ he said, ‘there’s nothing wrong with my arm!’ ‘Well I thought to myself, you must have hurt your arm, because why else was I only receiving letters back in the post from your sisters!’ Well we both laughed and laughed on the phone!”

Anna Llwyd originally from Rhyduchaf near Bala, Mrs Pritchard’s daughter, said: “It’s been a strange time for us all. We’re a very close family, so it was a bit of a shock to realise that we wouldn’t be able to call in and see mum daily, as we used to.

“Awel y Coleg staff are a godsend. We, as a family, are very comfortable leaving mum in their care. They are kind, thoughtful and nothing is too much trouble for them. We feel very fortunate.”

There will be a stir of excitement at Awel y Coleg this Friday, 8 May, because a special programme recorded before the Covid-19 restrictions came into force, will be broadcasted on S4C.

“We’re really looking forward,” explains Llywela Pritchard. “Rhys Meirion visited us in February with Branwen Williams from Llanuwchllyn who conducted an inter-generational choir. Some of us are singing with young people from the area, some are relatives and friends; and after some rehearsals, we sang a special song created for us on the Corau Rhys Meirion TV series.

“Rhys pushed me in my wheelchair along Awel y Coleg’s corridors back in February, whilst I showed him where everywhere was, the shop, the restaurant and the hairdresser.

“I’ll be watching from behind a cushion on Friday night, but boy oh boy, we had some great fun filming!”

To find out more about Grŵp Cynefin’s extra care housing schemes click here or call 0300 111 2122.

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