The Castlewellan Greenvale House Nursing Home has had full support to break free from the grips of Covid-19.
Despite an outbreak of positive Covid-19 cases in a Castlewellan care home at the end of November, relatives were still allowed access to visit their family members writes Laura Barr.
Down News understands that a significant number of residents and staff tested positive at Greenvale House Nursing Home located on Mill Hill, leading to an increase in cases in the wider community.
The news came a week before Northern Ireland was to be placed under a six-week lockdown from Boxing Day.
Speaking to Down News, Manager of Greenvale, Barbara Foster said: “We can confirm that during November an outbreak of Covid-19 occurred in Greenvale House.
“We have from March 2020 been working alongside the RQIA, the PHA and the relevant Trusts to try to ensure a Covid-19 free environment for our service users.
“My staff have worked in extremely difficult circumstances from March to protect our residents.
“We have already extended our sympathies to the families involved and it has been a very difficult time for all.
“Since March we have communicated regularly with the families of our service users and they will have all the information that they require without the need to publicise anything further.
“We are delighted that a vaccine is being received by the Home on Tuesday of this week and we look forward to opening our doors to relatives again in the near future.
“We have been guided by the PHA throughout, so where visits were necessary and appropriate, they were allowed.
“Our main objective was and still is to keep service users as safe as possible”.
A spokesperson from the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust told Down News that they undertook a “range of steps to support care homes that were managing outbreaks at that time”.
With particular reference to Greenvale Care Home, the spokesperson added that the trust provided: “Patient experienced staff to support with routine and also deep cleaning, care staff to support the home in providing care for residents along with enhanced care through specialist nursing support services.”
In addition to this, “advice, guidance and training from Trust Infection Prevention and Control Specialists and where appropriate residents had access to specialist beds in the Trust Covid unit if their health deteriorated”.
The Public Health Agency (PHA) stated that they could not comment on individual care home settings and that they provide “support and advice” to care homes with outbreaks “from the time of notification to conclusion”.
The PHA spokesperson added: “A model of regular testing for care home residents and staff was introduced in early August to help us identify cases in care homes earlier.
“This allows control measures to be put in place to help prevent onward spread.
“As a result of this, newly-reported care home outbreaks are smaller in magnitude and scale compared with the initial wave of Covid-19 outbreaks, where a very significant number of staff and residents were affected.
“It is important to note that this rolling programme is to identify asymptomatic cases, and that anyone displaying symptoms should self-isolate immediately and seek a test.”