One of our regular TOY blog contributors is Eilish Balfe, from Happy Days Early Years Service, Ireland. In this blog she describes the creative strategies the children and residents in the local nursing home have been using this past year to maintain their friendships.
While Covid 19 has still dominated our visits to the nursing home, we have somehow found a way to keep them going in the last 12 months.
After keeping the friendship going by Zoom and letters to each other, March 2021 saw us once again make that familiar walk down the village to the nursing home.
Our visits were window visits.
The residents would wait every Monday at the big window at the back of the nursing home.
Every Monday the children would run excitedly through the grounds, round the corner and straight to the big window. The excited children and residents blew kisses at one another and out stretched arms for virtual hugs.
We used walkie talkies to communicate inside the windows. The children would talk about their week, bring toys to show them and ask the residents lots of questions.
When the vaccines were rolled out and booster shots administered, Covid cases began to fall and there was a flash of normality and we were allowed inside to the nursing home once again. We played with sand and play dough. However this was short-lived as once again Ireland went through a wave of high cases and we returned to window visits.
Once again our Christmas show was done virtually to our residents.
When we returned to the preschool after Christmas we continued our window visits.
February 2022 saw us once again back inside the nursing home. However, visits are conducted in the day room with the residents at one end and the children at the other. We sing songs and chat about life. There was great excitement as the children were watching a programme called ‘Dancing with the Stars (Ireland)’ – both groups were cheering on Nina Carberry. Monday became talks about Nina’s dance, what she wore and how many points she got. The two groups chatted away about the hopes of her winning (which she did!)
We miss the hugs and miss the high 5s.
It’s been a year of highs and lows, however the friendship between the two groups has remained strong.
We are still hoping for the day when we can have contact once again without the worry of Covid. Lets hope that day comes soon.
Author: Eilish Balfe, Manager Happy Days Early Years Service