As Lightmoor residents know Bournville House is set in the heart of our picturesque Village. It’s made up of 59 apartments and is available for renting for people aged 50 and over.
During the past 18 months we’ve all had to find our ways through lock downs, restrictions and now getting used to the new ‘normal’. But what happened during that period for staff and residents? Find out below:
Here Ann, aged 71, who has lived at Bournville House since 2015 explains what it was like living through the global pandemic
Honestly I never imagined I would but myself and my husband moved to Telford to be closer to our family. Sadly after only eight months my husband was diagnosed with cancer and died, he was only 62. Initially I lived with family but I needed to find a new place to live. Throughout my life I’ve always lived with people, as I was the oldest of six siblings, and then moved from home to live with my husband. So to live alone felt quite daunting, but I still wanted my freedom. I got in touch with Citizen’s Advice and they told me about Bournville House, so I came and had a look and thought how lovely it was. I’ve been happy here ever seen. Feeling safe but having my own space has meant everything to me.
Prior to Covid, how did you spend your days and what was your favorite part of living at Bournville House?
I had a really active life, no day went by where I wasn’t out doing something, whether it was spending time with my family or volunteering. I’m very involved in the ladies group at my church and also volunteer at the Severn Hospice. Moving into Bournville House, there was lots of opportunities to meet the residents, so that’s the part I enjoy the most, I’ve made some good friends and we enjoy spending time in the garden and the lounges.
In March 2020, the country was put in its first lockdown, due to Covid. How did you find out and how was the first lockdown?
There’s no denying the first lockdown was scary, I think we all watched the news and wondered what was going to happen. Overnight, all of the communal areas in Bournville House were closed and we were told we had to stay in our apartments, like everybody else. The first few weeks were the most difficult because they hadn’t introduced the social bubble, so I felt very sorry for those who didn’t like using technology or didn’t have a wide circle of people to chat with. I was very lucky as I have a huge family and spent time talking and messaging them. At the time we wished we would have had more notice from BVT about what was happening but I think we also realised that they did what they thought was best at the time, using the knowledge they had. Throughout the lockdowns though, there were always care staff on duty 24/7 and a couple of BVT staff popped in and out to fix any maintenance problems. I know Trish or Donna at BVT would try and ring residents daily and I spoke to them, but often I was keeping myself occupied in other ways.
How did you keep yourself occupied during lockdown?
I love walking, so during the first lockdown, I enjoyed my one hour and then I spent more time outside when I could. I also took lots of photos, I’ve always enjoyed taking them and it was great to take lots of nature and the surroundings. I made them into collages and also used the time to make family and holiday online photo albums – it was so nice remembering them all. I also rang/facetimed family and friends, I have a brother who lives in New Zealand and a sister who lives in Fort William in Scotland, so I was use to talking to them that way. I also admit I’ve never watched so many films or TV as I’m sure we all did.
As time went on and the lockdown continued, how were the residents supported?
As I mentioned Trish or Donna called residents every day and those who needed had the care team. After a few weeks, Trish started producing a weekly newssheet, to keep everybody up to date with news but also included things like puzzles and word searches, which I really enjoyed doing.
How do you feel BVT responded to the pandemic?
At the beginning it was difficult as some residents felt abandoned and were frightened but I think BVT staff did what they thought was right at the time. Now, I’m sure there are some things they would do differently but I know how much the team care, so I know they would have done everything for the right intentions. I saw on-line comments about it, which was upsetting as it wasn’t true, Bournville House isn’t a care home, so it had to go into lockdown as did the rest of the country, so it wasn’t BVT’s fault that we had to stay in our apartments. I know we all feel lucky that no one at Bournville House caught Covid, so the measures were necessary.
Life is returning to a new normal, what are you looking forward too?
Being able to mix with other residents, it’s so lovely to walk into the garden or the communal areas and sit down and have a chat. This is why many residents moved in and it’s lovely to see some of the activities taking place, the art class always produce such lovely work, it’s a pleasure to see it.
What do you think of the BVT team at Bournville House?
The fab four as I call them – Trish, Donna, Vernon and Rob – they are always so helpful, I never hesitate to contact them if I need anything. Also the care staff and the cleaners, always have a smile on their faces and say hello when we meet. There are always challenges in life but the team tries their best and always thinks of us and that’s what counts.
What’s it like being part of Lightmoor Village?
All the residents love being part of the Village and we’ve all missed being able to interact during the past 18 months. We love when we have the children visit to do gardening or other events. Last Christmas we all felt so thankful when the Village delivered Christmas presents for us all. I even put a Mother Christmas outfit on and delivered them to the residents, what a wonderful day that was! So we’re all looking forward to being reunited with the community.
If you would like further details about Bournville House, to enquire about renting a home or to add your name to our waiting list, please go to www.bvt.org.uk/retirement-and-extra-care-housing/applying-for-retirement-and-extra-care-housing/
Donna – Bournville House Manager
As you can imagine it was particularly challenging for Donna because she was responsible for keeping residents, employees and care staff safe, while trying to keep up to date with the government’s latest updates. Donna has written a blog looking back at the last 18 months, which can be read here. Donna admits some things would have been done differently if they’d had the knowledge they have now but the one thing she is super proud of, is that she and the team played their part in keeping residents safe and there wasn’t one case of Covid in the home throughout.
I have been at BVT for five years, my career has always been in housing, as I’m passionate about supporting people. I worked for eleven years doing a combination of managing Extra Care and Sheltered Housing. I have also worked as a Homelessness Officer, Housing Officer and Support Worker for people with mental health problems, substance abuse and asylum seekers.
When did you first become aware of the seriousness of Covid?
Before it even hit the news here, I was being told by my daughter, who was studying in Italy, about this ‘virus’ that was going around. Soon, Italy became the epicenter of the pandemic, so I was extremely worried about my daughter. Although I started wondering if it would spread, I never could have imagined how it turned out to be.
What happened at Bournville House when the first lockdown was announced?
At the beginning of 2020 we were all watching the news and wondering how it would end but the events that followed, changed our lives overnight and as I was responsible for keeping the residents, employees, care staff and friends/family safe it was a frantic time to do the best we could, with the information we had.
Following an announcement by the government we had to go and close all the communal areas, move furniture from the Bistro area and other parts of the building. This was the advice given to prevent mixing households. We also had to put signage up to say Bournville House was closed to all but essential visitors such as district nurses and care staff. Those of us who could work from home, had too, it was a day none of us want to remember.
How did the residents react to the first lock down?
I still remember seeing some residents sitting in the Bistro area as we arrived as we explained we had to close the areas down. It was truly heart-breaking, the residents looked shell-shocked and I’m not going to lie, this is how all of the staff felt too. We all love working at Bournville House and if we could have changed the situation we would have. Some residents understandably were upset and even angry, as they felt we had changed the layout of Bournville House, their home. It was true but it was beyond our control.
As time went on and the lockdown continued, how were the residents supported?
The onsite care team continued to work normal shifts and 24/7 cover was provided as always. Our Building Facilities Officer and Caretaker roles could not be done at home, so they also remained in Bournville House. Myself and Trish, our administrator were deemed to be able to work from home, although as soon as we were allowed back, we were and started part time from August 2020. While we were working from home we made daily telephone calls to the residents and supported them in ensuring they had food and other essentials and advised how to get prescriptions delivered. More importantly the calls were a great opportunity to see how residents were and to have a chat, we missed that as much as they did. As the lockdown continued, my colleague tried to find ways of providing safe entertainment including crosswords, craft ideas, interesting facts and puzzles. Anything that we thought would help relieve the boredom and keep minds active. We also received three Kindles from Telford and Wrekin council and we also bought three. We gave these out to residents who were interested, one lady used it to make Zoom calls to her daughters who lived in America and New Zealand, while others used it to play games and puzzles.
With hindsight, is there anything you would have done differently?
Of course, we always say hindsight is a wonderful thing, as you have the knowledge to do things differently. I would say everything we did, we did with the best of intentions to keep everybody safe. Did we get it right every time, no, but we acted upon the advice that was given but we could have improved our communications to residents at the start to explain why we were acting so quickly and changing the landscape of their home.
What was the hardest part for you and your team during lockdown?
Honestly working from home. At Bournville House we are a small team of four BVT staff and the onsite care team and both teams work very closely together. Our roles involved daily interactions with both colleagues and residents, so it wasn’t the same only being able to use the telephone. During our daily welfare checks, we could tell some of our residents were lonely, especially during the first lock down when they didn’t have ‘support bubbles’ and no households were allowed to mix.
What was the proudest part for you during this period?
I think the dedication and willingness of residents and staff to listen to advice and help keep each other safe. This meant that we have still had no Covid cases within the building
How different was the second lockdown?
As we say knowledge is power, by the second lockdown, we were beginning to understand the virus and how it was transmitted, so it was easier to advise residents on how to keep themselves safe. Also as restrictions were lifted, we were able to put furniture, safely distanced, back in communal areas and opened up the lounges and the Library/IT room. As time moved on, we were able to space furniture in a way that residents could watch TV together and ensured it looked festive during the Christmas period. We ensured the home was dressed for Christmas and for me, I only worked from home when I absolutely had too, otherwise I was at Bournville House. Residents were also able to support each other better too because by this time the Government had allowed ‘support bubbles’ to enable some household mixing.
How are things now at Bournville House?
We are all delighted we have activities back up and running and residents are enjoying the art group, bingo, film night and garden group. We all know the virus hasn’t gone away and some caution is required but the residents are enjoying socializing with each other again and for family members to be able to visit them again in their home. There are residents who are still very cautious and we are supporting them in any way we can, while they build up their confidence in returning to things they enjoy doing.
Recently Bournville House resident Joyce enjoyed a surprise birthday party as she was unable to celebrate her 90th last year due to Covid.