A BURY care home manager has described the 12 months his facility has spent at the forefront in the UK’s fight against Covid-19 as an “emotional rollercoaster”.

In May 2020, Gorsey Clough, in Tottington, became one of the country’s first Nightingale care homes, an isolation ward for people discharged from hospital but not yet ready to return to their own care home.

The home was also chosen to provide end-of-life care to some of the sickest patients from nearby hospitals.

“There were lots of care homes who just didn’t have the facilities or staffing levels to isolate people,” said manager Craig Priestly.

"We wanted to create a designated care setting which would allow those people to come to us and protect other care homes.”

With funding and support from Bury Council and the NHS, the home created an 11-bed unit in little over a month with the first patients admitted nearly a year ago.

“It’s fair to say it has been an emotional rollercoaster,” said Craig. “We have had a fantastic team who have put their heart and soul into caring for people with very complex needs.

“There have been many challenges and we have sadly had to deal with a significant number of deaths. But with every death we have upheld people’s last wishes, families were able to with them and comfort and dignity has been maintained.

“You didn’t know what was happening from one week to the next and we were constantly full for a very long period. We had people who were severely ill and approaching the end of their life, added to people dying of Covid.

“Throughout this staff have been incredible. Not only have they supported the person dying or people getting better, but also supported each family emotionally.”

To minimise any risk of possible transmission, the new unit was separated from the rest of the nursing home, where 35 residents live, with its own entrance. Patio doors allowed families access loved ones and were so successful there were no further Covid-19 outbreaks for the unit.

“We were dealing with the unknown,” added Craig. “But with end of life care you only get the one chance to get it right. The staff have simply been fantastic - they have put patients first above themselves and their families and somehow kept the unit functioning.

"This service over the past 12 months has been truly remarkable, caring for the people of Bury who are some of our most vulnerable in society.

"This fantastic partnership working would not have been possible without the dedication of others and our community teams. This is an example that social care can be resilient and adaptable to support our health system.”