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Bradford Manor Rest Home staff have moved into their Dunedin workplace with their dementia patients, for the duration of the Covid-19 lockdown.
Manager Michelle Donaldson said the Lixmont St facility had been trying to keep ahead of the infection risk from Covid-19 from the very start.
In a bid to keep their residents safe, Bradford Manor had been closed to visitors since March 13 and staff members were not allowed to enter the facility until they had their temperatures checked, she said.
Stringent cleaning protocols were also put in place.
Despite the protocols, there was still a chance that a staff member could bring Covid-19 into the facility, she said.
Staff made the decision to live on site for the duration of the lockdown, to keep their 26 dementia residents free of the virus.
"The residents are vulnerable.
"If a dementia resident gets it, it’s very very hard to self-isolate them.
"You can’t keep them in their rooms because they don’t understand and they want to come out, and of course they will have a lot of contact with the other residents.
"We want to keep everyone as safe as we possibly can."
Mrs Donaldson said only three of the 12 staff members could not stay on site because they had compromised immune systems and health problems.
"The remaining [nine] staff decided they wanted to move in for the duration."
Living together would not be easy, she said.
The home had two empty rooms with beds which would be shared by staff.
"The night staff will sleep in there during the day. Then the beds will be stripped and the day staff will sleep in there during the night.
"We’ve also got one shower that we’ve commandeered for staff only, and we’ve also got a separate lounge that has access to our lovely gardens.
"There’s also a carport and we’re setting up tables and chairs under there so they can get out away from the inside of the home and get some fresh air."
Mrs Donaldson said the staff were going well beyond the call of duty, and it would only work because most of them had worked together for the past 15 years and saw each other as family.
"This is huge. My cook has three children. The sacrifice that she’s making — she’s not going to see them for a month.
"I can’t actually stress enough, how I feel as a manager that my staff are doing this.
"This is an amazing thing and it was led by them.
"I’ve just said to them today that when this is over, we are going to have the best night out ever. We’ll invite their whole families."