Nursing mentally challenged adults during Covid

It’s a different kind of nursing, caring for physically and mentally challenged adults during Covid. No matter if you’ve had a bad day, lack of sleep the night before, or have your own personal challenges to deal with, you are always accepted, always given a hug and always told how beautiful you are.   

The love and care received working in a home for adults with disabilities

The mentally challenged adult residents of Sunfield Home Howick never miss a beat.  As a home for adults with special needs, it really is very special. If it’s your birthday or nurses’ day or if you’ve been ill, they are always one step ahead.  Either they’ve made you an oversized card to wish you well, coloured in a picture, written their name on a piece of paper to let you know that they had popped in to see you, or they’ve illegally picked a rose for you as they’ve passed a garden and popped it on your desk.  They even notice when your car licence is about to expire or if you have a slightly flat tyre. 

Covid care for the mentally challenged adult

Then Covid hit.  Things changed drastically… they had to. The residents were locked down in their units and isolated from their friends.   Staff were looking strangely different wearing masks and shields. There was almost a feeling of aloof, a distance, a detachment.  No more hugs, no more notes, no more illegal roses, no more visits.   

As an organisation that helps disabled adults our jobs are wide and varied. However, Covid protocols brought in a whole new dimension. Staff were no longer allowed to move around freely and had to stay in their designated areas.  The clinic for the residents became a mobile one and the medical unit became an out of bounds area.  

Going HOME almost seemed like something of the past.  It was strict lockdown rules.  Sunfield home became an island.  No one in, no one out.  Separated from the outside world and unable to see society outside the gates of the home.  

We watched, we observed.  There were questions, there were a few tantrums and there were definitely tears.  However, despite the tantrums, despite the tears, there was a shift of gear that needed to happen.  Things had to be done differently.  Reassess, re-align, re-focus.  Keep the main thing the main thing and ensure that the residents physical, social and psychological needs were met. 

Mentally challenged adults require special care

Thinking in an “out of the box” way started to become our new normal.  The residents now became used to the rule that they couldn’t frequent medical as much as they pleased, but very quickly learned that if they wore a mask, they would get a free pass to quickly pop into medical to make sure that nothing had changed and if they were lucky, a quick chat with one of us nurses.  New friendships were formed within their units and a new-found community which helped each other get through the difficult days.  

As the lockdown rules eased, things became a little easier in the home, but we were still extremely cautious.  Slowly, we started allowing parents to visit in a picnic type setting.  There was definitely an elation and excitement amongst the residents getting visitors, especially at the prospect of getting tuck.   

Their demena changed, smiles were broad and there was a happiness back in the home. This was a special time to see families reunite.  Watching parents try their best not to hug their child and when they thought no one was watching, a warm, reassuring embrace.  Irreplacable …

Help us support mentally challenged adults who now have no family

There is no medication, no activity, no advice nor any tasty treat that can replace the love of a family with a mentally challenged adult. That warm embrace that says that everything is going to be OK just cannot be matched. 

Help us care for those who’s parents have passed away. They need your care and any donation to provide for them would be gratefully appreciated.

Donate or get involved

Chat to Cliff

Have any questions? Call or email our General Manager, Cliff Freeman.
078 524 5151