Royal Star & Garter (RS&G) was founded in 1916 to care for the severely disabled young men returning from the battlefields. They now offer award-winning care in purpose built, state-of-the-art Homes in Solihull, Surbiton and High Wycombe. RS&G supports nearly 200 ex-servicemen and women, and their partners, living with disability or dementia. Their Homes provide a friendly, modern and comfortable environment that enables them to take a pioneering, person-centred approach to nursing, therapeutic and dementia care. Since COVID-19 restrictions were enforced in March 2020, RS&G’s work has adapted so that they can safely continue to provide the very best in person-centred care, whilst having a tangible impact on resident’s quality of life and reducing the stress of the situation. In-house physiotherapists work daily with residents to help maintain their strength and balance so that they can live independent lives. Speech and language therapists continue to work with residents to improve communication as well as assisting with ‘supported conversations’ to facilitate communication with loved ones. The Activities Teams have used technology and creativity to find new opportunities that offer physical movement, socialising and sensory stimulation to ensure all residents can still take part in a varied and enjoyable programme of activities including virtual Tai Chi and outside garden parties, where residents can socialise safely.
During the pandemic, maintaining regular family contact and communication for residents has been a priority for RS&G. Lack of communication and connection is particularly detrimental for people living with dementia and has been linked to deteriorating health. RS&G ensured families could connect virtually until it was safe to manage socially distanced visits outdoors in their gardens and car parks. Despite all their efforts, online and outside contact comes with its barriers to communication and connection, including noise interference, weather conditions and physical distance. With the impact of the pandemic continuing, the RS&G’s took the decision to make permanent alterations to their buildings to allow for safe, indoor visits. The Scheinberg Relief Fund has provided the funding to create three indoor COVID secure meeting spaces, one in each of RS&G’s Homes. These spaces will ensure that visits can continue despite the weather and any tightening of restrictions, reduce families stress and worry by enabling them to have regular contact once again with their loved ones, and increase the wellbeing of residents who will be able to see and meet with their loved ones in comfort and with fewer barriers to communication and connection.