Annet Rump (56) is at the door to the garden. The mouth mask comes off and she gasps. Fresh air, her lungs are calling for it. There is not much time: the residents of the Myosotis nursing home in Kampen come first. The door closes again and the cover on. Rump: “The heating will be turned on again here soon. I’ll give it to you. ”
The care provider works from the flex pool at Myosotis. She likes that because it brings her to different departments. “I was there on the first wave, and now that the second wave has arrived, I’m working again,” Rump sums it up. In between, she herself was ‘miserable and quite ill’. Rump was sick at home from the corona virus for eight weeks, then she went back to work slowly. “IJsselheem gave me plenty of time to recover.”
How she contracted the virus? Rump doesn’t know. It could have happened that morning in a ward for people with dementia. “A resident looked at me and suddenly coughed in my face. But it could just as well have happened at a different time. In any case, I became ill a few days later. ” No one wore mouth masks at the time. That is different now. Rump: “We are doing everything we can to keep the virus out now”.
Yet that will not work, everyone fears at IJsselheem, a care organization with fourteen nursing home locations, including Myosotis in Kampen. Chairman of the board Karin Leferink has no doubts about this. ‘Chef Corona’ and coordinator of the crisis team Joanne Kroes is also under no illusions. “Yes, we assume that.” Care worker Hendrik Jan Riesebos thinks that ‘the question is not whether someone will become infected, but when’. Hans van Splunter, whose 87-year-old father with dementia lives in ‘Myo’, is also sure. “It’s coming in again.”
Piano is not corona proof
Just look outside. The corona map of the Netherlands turns deep red. Last week, the number of infections in nursing homes doubled, with ten to fifteen nursing homes being added every day with a new corona infection. And that while everything is being done everywhere to prevent (re) introduction of the virus.
This is also the case by the employees and residents of the Myosotis nursing home (freely translated: forget-me-not). In the monumental building on the edge of the historic center of Kampen, elements of the former Kamper city hospital are visible, such as the old stone stairs and authentic long corridors. The colored stickers on the floor again do not have any historical context: everywhere is one-way traffic, most people stick to it.
The usual liveliness of a nursing home is now missing. Most residents stay on their own floor. The restaurant on the ground floor looks deserted. There are no parties or music evenings. The large wooden piano is covered with a piece of plastic: playing it is not ‘corona proof’.
Every morning there is a queue for a black tent in the garden between 9 and 10 am. All 2,400 IJsselheem employees can be tested for the corona virus. Sniff in the nose? To the tent. In the evening the results are in. The IJsselheem test facility, one of the first at a nursing home in the Netherlands, is crucial. Chairman of the Board Leferink: “In the summer I saw the crowds on the beaches of Scheveningen and we knew that employees would return from holidays where they had more contacts than in the previous months”. It was progressive insight, says Leferink, with of course the first wave clearly on her retina. Testing was not allowed in April.
In fact, the practice of that time now feels absurd. Colleagues with complaints just had to work. Catch a cold? To work. Dry cough? To work. You only stayed home when you had a fever of 38 degrees. 37.9 degrees? To work.
It is impossible to reconstruct what kind of misery that has caused. “The fact that people then continued to work may have been disastrous in retrospect,” says manager Bert Penninkhof. And the lack of protective equipment didn’t help either. Take the mouth caps, they didn’t wear them at first. The national cap guideline was strict for nursing home care, and according to the RIVM they were often ‘not necessary’. From April 17, IJsselheem has had enough: employees were still allowed to wear caps. “We have canceled city and country for it,” Penninkhof remembers well.
Because hardly any testing was done, it is not known exactly what damage the corona virus caused to IJsselheem. An estimated eighty residents (spread over all fourteen establishments where a total of eight hundred people live) died of the disease and hundreds of residents became infected. At least one in five employees got corona.
But not only the virus itself made victims, says geriatric medicine specialist Roland Westerink van IJsselheem. “The visitor stop had a lot of impact,” he says. For example, quite suddenly a number of residents died on the Koornmarkt after the virus had long disappeared. “Loneliness may have played a role in this. I think we have learned that it is not safe to lock the doors again. ”
Hans van Splunter still remembers standing at the top of the fire escape, on the outside of the building. He waved to his demented father. “Why don’t you come in,” father shouted. Me: that corona disease! What illness, he asked. Never mind, I thought. The door is locked, I shouted, but I saw he didn’t believe me. He couldn’t understand me anymore, turned and walked away angrily. That hurt a lot. ”
In the opinion of Van Splunter, who is also chairman of the Myosotis client council, his father has deteriorated rapidly due to the lockdown. But he doesn’t know for sure. “Dementia is progressive, it could also have been that disease.” Van Splunter is confident that he can continue to visit his father during the second wave. “The doors will not close again, the board promises. An oath has been sworn to that. ”
Indeed, says director Leferink, the doors will remain open during the second wave. In the summer the idea arose among mayors of being able to close nursing homes themselves in a crisis situation. Chairman of the board Leferink ran into Mayor Peter Snijders of Zwolle, who is also chairman of the IJsselland safety region.
“It’s great that you think you can, but that’s not going to happen. We remain in charge here, I said to Peter. ” The idea of including the possibility of forced closure in the emergency ordinance was nipped in the bud.
Roaring in the car
Unlike in March and April, the nursing home is now better prepared for the corona virus, says ‘chief corona’ Joanne Kroes. Take the corona department on the ground floor. There is a room with people and materials ready to receive residents who become infected and cannot be quarantined, for example because they have dementia. Then they cannot infect fellow residents and still have freedom of movement. Until now, the department has been empty. Kroes: “Fortunately, no one has tested positive yet”.
Since the beginning of the crisis, the corona policy team including Kroes has met every Monday morning. The ‘chef corona’ ensures that scripts are ready and everyone in the organization is kept informed. Kroes thrives during a major crisis. “That might be strange to say when eighty residents have died. During the first wave I also sometimes roared in the car on my way home, after another day in which I got the worst reproaches thrown at my head. ”
Although corona brought a lot of trouble to Myosotis, lessons have also been learned. Kroes: “We will not go back to how it used to be, that’s for sure. In the wards with residents with dementia, for example, everyone could previously just walk in. During the first wave, we discovered that the visitor’s stop also gave peace of mind. Regulating visits to those departments is here to stay. ”
This week, the pop-up editors of Trouw reported from the Myosotis nursing home in Kampen. The reason was the second corona wave that the Netherlands is now in. Nursing home care in the Netherlands was hit hard during the first wave. How are things now? Are the effects of the first wave still tangible? And what’s different?
This is the last story from this series in Trouw. Have a say? Readers can respond by emailing email@example.com, or via Twitter: @pop_uptrouw. Read all the stories on Trouw.nl/popup.
When the corona virus broke out on the Botermarkt in April, caregiver Anne-Wil Bastiaan (29) also got Covid-19. “Many colleagues got the virus. But we wanted to continue, take care of the people. That feeling is in all of us. We had to say to a pregnant colleague who was sniffling: ‘Shouldn’t you go home?’ ”Through the app group, Bastiaan was informed about the misery the virus was causing in ‘her’ department. “You sit at home on the couch looking out for yourself while you know how incredibly busy your colleagues are. You feel powerless. ”
To support Bastiaan colleagues, the nursing home started with a so-called ‘menu of helplines’. From absenteeism coaches and spiritual counselors to flown in psychologists and an emergency line.
Spiritual carer Paulineke Eigenhuis is holding a stack of cards with the text ‘do you want to be my buddy?’. “It’s one of the ways to keep an eye on each other,” she explains. “Practice shows that colleagues in the department mainly seek support from each other.”
Eigenhuis’s telephone rang continuously during the first wave. Employees bombarded her with practical matters such as: ‘My husband is sick, should I report sick now? What does that mean for my department? ‘ But they also wrestled with moral dilemmas. “Employees who were anxious or felt guilty because they initially worked without a mask. Colleagues knew that working unprotected was not good, but sometimes they had to. ”
The well-being of the employees and their commitment is something that corona chief Joanne Kroes is most concerned about in the run-up to the second wave. “Colleagues have sometimes been left with PTSD-like complaints from the first wave. It comes up when they think about the first months of the corona crisis. Employees are tired in their minds, sleep poorly. The rack is out. ”
What also does not help is that now that the second corona wave washes over the Netherlands, the promised care bonus of one thousand euros is still not in the employees’ accounts. It turns out to be a point of irritation time and again, both among staff and driver Karin Leferink. “The present from the minister is a problem on my desk. Now I have to choose who gets that bonus and who doesn’t. I don’t want to be the reviewer at all. Everyone is entitled to a bonus. ”
Reactions from readers
Trouw asked readers this week to respond to the pop-up editors’ visit to the Myosotis nursing home in Kampen. A selection.
“Nobody can do that extra service turning and then it has to go through the manager appointed someone to fill the gap in the roster? How beautiful and motivating for the permanent employees if the manager would simply cooperate in such a situation. Great respect for the people who take care of our (grand) fathers and (grand) mothers! ”
Eugenie Brouwer, Otterlo
“I think you step into a certain position with open eyes, where you know exactly what you deserve. Complaining about salary afterwards is not very fancy to me. Isn’t there more than just the salary that motivates someone to take up care? I just hope that this ingratitude is not passed on to the residents. ”
Wilfred Terporten, Vlaardingen
“With the best will in the world, I cannot understand that staff who never have ‘hands on the bed’ are also eligible for the bonus. The people who are in close contact with the residents are the only ones who should be eligible for this bonus. Little consolation compared to the well-deserved structural wage increase. ”
Ineke Geernaert, Zoetermeer
“It is not without reason that it has been said: that is never allowed again: denying family members access to their loved ones. My mother is ninety and extremely vulnerable and was in the nursing home from March. She was there for two weeks when the visitation ban took effect. After those ten weeks I found her in a state of turmoil. She had lost a lot of weight. You will never forget that look. ”