Staff sleep at care centre during lockdown

Therapist Xola Sipuka, far right, spending time with the young residents outside. Picture: Supplied

More than 30 staff at Woodside Special Care Centre went into lockdown there 11 days before the official national lockdown started on Friday March 27 to protect the 80-odd residents from exposure to Covid-19.

The home’s fund-raising manager, Clive Obery, said he, together with 33 other staff, had been sleeping at Woodside.

Staff had consulted with doctors and the home’s management to look at how to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus.

“Staff travel each day by public transport, and we are all fully aware of the impact of packed transports with very little space to breathe,” he said.

“We then called all the staff together and explained to them about the highly infectious nature of the virus and the only way to protect everybody is if they slept at Woodside.”

Ten minutes after the briefing all the staff – including nurses, cooks, cleaners and security guards – had returned to the office saying they were prepared to sleep over at the home for an extended period. The home’s neighbours, along with members of the local civic association and the neighbourhood watch, had been very supportive, he said.

“We had sufficient mattresses and beds to accommodate all our staff, and the community also provided food, toiletries and other necessities.”

One neighbour even drops a pot of soup and a warm pudding at the gate every Sunday.

Staff were happy under the circumstances, Mr Obery said.

“They are eating well, sleeping well, working together and covering for each other. The place is clean, and meals are on time, and they keep the residents happy,” he said.

“Initially, residents did not seem to understand, and now they are in the rhythm with the staff and bonds are forming.

“It is truly a time of coming together as one to achieve a common goal, to protect our residents, ourselves and our families.”

Mr Obery added that arrangements would be made for any staff member who needed to leave Woodside and return to their home.

“So far, the response has been ‘no, we are staying here for as long as the residents need us’ and I am so humbled by this,” he said.

The homes is sending photos and videos to the residents’ families, and it has assured them that their loved ones are safe, happy, eating well and getting some time in the outdoors daily.

The home has put out a public appeal for assistance because the lockdown means it has more mouths to feed.

Call 083 440 9765 or email marketing@woodside.org.za to find out how you can help.