Jean’s touch and go Covid-19 recovery
Covid-19 is gripping the globe and someone who knows exactly what it’s like to face the virus is 79-year-old Sanctuary Care resident Jean.
Jean Winston’s road to recovery was far from plain sailing. During the peak of her illness, end of life care arrangements and final goodbyes were arranged by the team at Guys Court Residential and Nursing Home, a care home in Fleetwood.
But remarkably, a month later, you can now find her relaxing quietly in the home’s garden having combatted the global virus.
Home manager, Sally Gregory shares the highs and the lows of Covid-19 for Jean and her loved ones.
Sally starts: “Jean had been feeling unwell for just over a week, she wasn’t herself at all and was generally complaining she didn’t feel right – she was exhausted, lost her appetite and was even reluctant to drink.
“On paper, she wasn’t showing any of the symptoms associated with Covid-19 at the time. She had no cough, temperature or sore throat for example. But we knew she wasn’t right, so we arranged for a swab test to be administered, along with all our residents, and five days later the results returned as positive.
“Before the results landed, Jean was already self-isolating in her bedroom as she was feeling so unwell. But, with her limited energy, even if she wanted to leave her room, she wouldn’t have been able to. And as the days went by, she continued to dip – she was getting weaker and weaker and was struggling to even sip water.
“By week two, we were really starting to worry. Even though she wasn’t showing any breathing concerns, there was no sign of improvement and I knew we were at the peak of her illness.”
Preparing for person-centred end of life care
Sally continued: “I briefed my teams right away about the importance of encouraging Jean to drink fluids due to the additional risks associated with dehydration and we continued to provide around-the-clock care. We were always there, whether we were carrying out additional checks, supporting her to drink, simply talking to her and ensuring she was comfortable. We were just hoping for signs of improvement.”
Along with caring for Jean in her darkest hours, the team kept in regular contact with her loved ones. Updating them on her daily progress and changes, as well as being the supportive voice on the end of the phone.
Supporting loved ones who couldn’t be there
Sally explained: “Jean’s husband ordinarily visits the home daily, but since the implementation of restricted visiting, he switched his visits to daily calls. Jean has her own number and multiple times a day you would catch the pair on the phone. But as the virus took its toll, Jean was unable to use the phone, she could barely speak or understand what was really happening around her.
“It was so heart-breaking for the family, especially for her husband. I naturally took all his calls when Jean was unable. He phoned me directly at the home, numerous times a day to enquire about her welfare. I could only imagine how stressful this time was for him, so I wanted to offer some form of comfort to him. At times we were having calls 15 minutes apart, but I didn’t mind at all, we are a family here at Guys Court and I wanted to make sure he felt as reassured as I could physically make him at this time. I appreciated that it’s so unnatural to be apart from the person you love, when all you want to do is hold their hand and be there for them. Communication was simply everything.”
After a long agonising two weeks, a glimmer of hope
Just over two weeks, with sheer persistence by the Sanctuary Care’s team and determination on Jean’s part, she very slowly started to improve.
Sally continued: “We are about three weeks in now and one particular sunny Saturday morning, Jean appeared much brighter than she had even been since contracting coronavirus. She felt she had the strength to enjoy a bubble bath and we even managed to blow dry her hair. Once dressed and refreshed, we assisted her to sit in the home’s patio area, where she was alone with just our team and it was so peaceful for her.
“Jean’s condition at this point remained extremely serious and there was no guarantee that she would continue to make a full recovery. So, considering this, and in line with visiting guidelines regarding end of life care, I quickly made the snap decision and contacted Jean’s husband and daughter. I advised that she was sat peacefully in the garden in the sunshine and now would be a good time to come and see her. I stipulated that strict social distancing measures would need to be followed and full PPE must be worn, and they were more than happy to comply.
“And I’m so pleased I did. It was such a beautiful moment. Thankfully it wasn’t a goodbye but at the time it very much could’ve been, and it will be a memory I’ll cherish forever.”
Road to recovery
Following the visit, Jean continued to slowly improve. Each day becoming more alert and managing to drink and eat that tiny bit more.
And while she is still to this day building her strength up and returning to her baseline care, she is also enjoying more happy moments in the garden and chats to her dear husband on her mobile, Covid-19 free.
I will always be so grateful for the care and support I have received - thank you.
Jean Gregory, Sanctuary Care Resident