February already -getting lighter and the last few weeks have definitely been a lot drier – has the winter still got a bite? Some of our ladies are already sitting outside on the sunnier days which is lovely to see.

Being January with Covid, there is sadly not too much to report, which in some ways is good news! I am saying this with crossed fingers, but hopefully we are moving through the worst of this pandemic. Even though we have a few members of staff who have tested positive over the last month, they have all been community based infections and we have been able to keep the home clear and safe – fingers crossed again.

In my note of last week, I explained that we were waiting for the full guidance from the Government on the latest changes to visiting – that came through yesterday. The main change is that we can now release the maximum of 4 named visitors to any visitor. The requirement for mask and handwashing/sanitising upon entry remains the same, as does proof of a LFD test on the day of the visit. Finally, all visits still need to be booked in advance please. In other words, we are returning to the status we had in December, prior to the Omicron outbreak. As always, please do continue to help our staff and work with us to meet these requirements.

There is certainly a mood for us all to start living with Covid, especially with the high levels of vaccination. Even if the hospitals are no longer needing all staff to be vaccinated, all of our staff at The Priory have been jabbed and boostered. As of mid Feb, we will also be moving to removing the need for PCR tests for both staff and residents, unless there is an outbreak. Staff will be required to take a LFD test at home before each shift. Residents will only be required to be tested if they display symptoms, or there is an outbreak.

These changes will hopefully lead to freeing up visiting as we go through the Spring, and perhaps in the Summer, we may even be able to re-start some of our family events and outings. When those start up again, then I will really feel we are coming out of it.

Our activities continue and our musicians are still able to visit. As I  write this, I can hear Alison from KiddleyDivey and our residents singing Sweet Caroline in the old lounge – lots of clapping and laughter.

One last item is a request to you – do you know of any gardeners? Barry who has been our gardener for the last 6 years is retiring. We are looking for someone who can keep the grounds tidy, cut the lawn, maintain the beds and help us in the veg plot. Perfect for a gardener or perhaps someone who is retired? If you know of anyone, please do let us know.

I have crossed my fingers a lot as I have written this update. Things are looking brighter in all respects, so lets hope it continues. We may not be able to have a cheese and wine party yet, but……