I’m an activity co-ordinator in a care home in Crieff, Ancaster House. Our care home went into lockdown in March. Everyone had to be in their own rooms and residents missed the daily interaction with family – and each other. All the staff were in full PPE to keep residents safe, but the downside was that many couldn’t hear us very well through our masks and we couldn’t hold their hands.
Over the lockdown period we did have some cases of COVID and we lost residents – both through COVID and from other illnesses. It was hard on everyone. Some staff members were poorly too.
We couldn’t attend funeral of our residents, couldn’t hug those that were left behind or family members.
The residents wanted to do something to remember their friends and the manager came up with the idea of a small rock garden. It had to be something visual Our brilliant handyman painted an old filing cabinet and then the residents all got together in a group (all two metres apart from each other) and painted stones. The stones each represent someone we lost. With our help, residents painted the rocks and then we put them, with some plants, into the cabinet. The stones were things like a welsh flag for one resident who was Welsh and loved his rugby. Another resident had been a journalist, so his was a newspaper.
We spent a week making it and then we did a wee ceremony to open it with all the staff and the residents, some did a reading, some said poetry. It was very emotional.
We haven’t had any COVID in the home since those early days, we’re being very careful but it’s still hard on our residents – family visits aren’t allowed indoors and it’s cold now, so outdoor visits are hard.
The rock garden has given the residents something to focus on, to sit by and to look at. We faced it towards the window of the care home, so even now when it’s colder, people can still look and see it. It has helped us all find a little peace.