Elderly home prepared for COVID

The Little Sisters of the Poor and residents of the country’s only elderly home are prepared for any developments should COVID-19 reach the island, says its sister-in-charge.

In August 2020, the Home of the Elderly at Mapuifagalele had put in place restrictions on access to the aged care facility to address COVID-19 global pandemic related risks. 

They had limited the number of visitors to the facility; the only ones who were allowed to enter were the Little Sisters of the Poor themselves and their staff. 

The restrictions were designed to protect the elderly residents.

Visitor access in late 2020 was granted on the condition that they adhere to social distancing rules and that visits are restricted to the meeting room area of the home and that members of the public, who had normally joined members of the facility for mass, were instead encouraged to go to church services in their own parishes. 

Months after those restrictions were first put in place, the current sister-in-charge of the elderly home, Sister Maria Frances Pale. said she is well aware of Samoa's current restrictions and is enforcing them.

"All of our staff have been vaccinated," she said.

Sister Maria explained that immunisation was only one way to protect themselves, the residents, and also their own families.

Sister Maria was recently appointed as the Sister-in-Charge of the elderly home. Before that, she had worked in the United States of America and had experience working in situations with COVID-19 patients.

She said the facility’s doctor is always available at the elderly home.

Residents are scheduled to have their second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine next week. 

Sister Maria said that they always appreciate donations they receive from the public and items such as hand sanitisers are always on the list.

The Home of the Elderly at Mapuifagalele will be celebrating its 50th anniversary on Saturday.

Sister Maria said that there will only be a simple celebration after the mass; food will be taken directly to the guests due to restrictions.

Although all age groups are at risk of contracting the virus, the elderly have an elevated risk from COVID-19, the World Health Organisation says, because of their risk of developing a concurrent severe illness with the virus it could have more severe health ramifications than in other demographics. 

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