Resident Life Story – Miriam Newel – Kingsland Care Centre

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As we sit in the sunny upper lounge overlooking Ballyholme Bay on a beautiful Autumn morning, Miriam enjoys reminiscing over her 94 years of life so far …

Miriam was born on 3 February 1922 in Belmont Lodge, Ferrybank, Waterford and is the youngest of four siblings (and admits that, being so much younger than her two sisters and brother, she was ‘spoiled rotten’!)

Miriam’s father, William Hill, owned a local shop and a Salt Mill and, to this day, Miriam can visualise it all ‘like it was yesterday’. The family lived on a farm and Miriam has many fond memories of playing in the surrounding fields and swimming in the local lake, surrounded by all sorts of animals.  As you can see from the attached photo, Miriam is still a great animal lover and enjoys cuddles with Kingsland’s new guinea pigs ‘Gingernut and Jaffa Cake’.

Having moved up North in the 1930s, Miriam remembers attending Pickie School in Bangor for a short while before starting as a boarder at Friends School, Lisburn. Miriam has fond memories from this school but always mentions about it having been a Quaker School which was based on silent worship – and Miriam wasn’t so keen on that factor, especially as she likes to chat!!!!

After leaving school Miriam went to study Domestic Economy at Alexander College Dublin and lived with her Aunt for the duration of the three year course. Following her graduation, Miriam was employed back in Bangor as a Nanny to look after the three children of a local Doctor and his wife and she has many fond memories of taking the children for walks and playing in the local parks.  Miriam continued in this role until meeting her future husband, Derek, who was a teacher of Mechanical Engineering at Belfast Technical College.

Miriam and Derek were married at Ballyholme Presbyterian Church and raised three beautiful children: David (who now lives in London), Brenda (who lives in Bangor) and Lesley (who lives in Saintfield). They enjoyed many happy family holidays together over the years, usually camping in two tents.  One particular holiday that Miriam vividly remembers was a coach holiday where they visited Lands End.  Miriam asked the driver if it was possible to physically touch the very end of the land and she remembers running across fields to get right to the tip of Lands End, whilst everyone whooped and cheered back on the bus as they watched her skip across the grass … I haven’t seen Miriam laugh so much as she did whilst retelling this particular story!!

Sadly, her husband, Derek, passed away at an early age following a stroke and Miriam remained on her own for many years until coming to live at Kingsland. Whilst on her own, Miriam had always been a keen gardener and spent many hours tending her plants and flowers, and often opened her garden to the public to raise funds for the Church.  Also, as a great Bridge player, she was never lost for company with her Bridge friends who all met regularly for fun and laughter.

Miriam is delighted that (in her own words) she is “able to end her days overlooking Ballyholme Bay, with a view of her marital home which brings back so many, many happy memories”. As I leave Miriam sitting at the window of the upper lounge, where the sun is still shining, I see a very happy and content lady, knitting away, who can see out her twilight years with so many memories literally stretched out in front of her over Ballyholme Bay.

A wonderful lady that I have the privilege of spending time with every day.

Heather Benson

Activities Co-Ordinator

Larchwood Care (NI) Limited
First Floor

Unit 16 Crescent Industrial Estate
Ballinderry Road

BT28 2GN

Tel: 028 92 669 360

22 February 2021

Dear (Next of Kin),

Further to my last statement , you will be aware that we took the decision in January to close to all visiting as we witnessed a province wide increase in transmission of COVID-19.  This decision was not taken lightly and in keeping with our core values sought to provide protection to your loved ones.

We recognise the last 12 months has been extremely challenging for families who have been separated from their loved ones in an effort to keep them safe.  We thank everyone for their understanding and their resolve to work with us in protecting the most vulnerable and preventing where possible the spread of the virus to residents and staff.  Your support has been an invaluable part of working together to keep residents safe.

During this time many of you will have availed of virtual and window visits, which remain the safest means to keep in contact with residents.

In the last 6 weeks there have been many positive developments, including the roll out of the vaccine to residents and the decrease in community transmission.  We also acknowledge, in line with the executive’s announcement of continued restrictions, there is a need for continued vigilance and risk management.  In developing and re-establishing  the visiting policy for Larchwood Care Homes we have taken all these matters into consideration and believe that the following arrangements provide the necessary balance for safe visiting.  The following sets out the opportunities available in all Homes.

Virtual and Window Visiting

These visits have been available throughout the last 12 months and can be still be facilitated in all Homes.  Window visitors are reminded that they must still wear a face mask during visits.  Visits are available 7 days a week and if you do not require staff to support your visit there is no restriction on visiting times or duration.

If staff are required to facilitate or support these visits please make contact with the Home at the assigned booking times of Monday – Friday 1000 – 1100 hours or 1400-1500 hours to request this support.

End of Life Visiting

Throughout the last 12 months we have recognised that the last moments are precious and have continued to facilitate these visiting arrangements for residents who are in the last days of their life.  If you find yourself in this position, special compassionate arrangements will be facilitated through the Home Manager or Nurse in Charge.  Often the Home will make contact with you to arrange these, but if you have urgent need to contact us at any time to book access to your loved one.

Care Partners

A Care Partner is defined as an individual who has previously played a role in supporting and attending to their relative’s physical and mental health, and/or provided specific support and assistance to ensure that communication or other health and social care needs are met due to a pre-existing condition.  These arrangements which have been in place within all Homes permit an individual to be designated as a Care Partner, however the next of kin must make contact with the Home Manager to advise of this nomination.

Two individuals can be nominated for a resident as Care Partners.  We will facilitate either of these nominees a maximum of 2 visits between them per week.  The total visit time will be no longer than 45 minutes.  Care Partners must book their visit by contacting the Home at the assigned booking times of Monday – Friday 1000 – 1100 hours or 1400-1500 hours.

Care Partners will be tested weekly as part of the Care Home staff testing programme.  Upon arrival at the Home the Care Partner will have their temperature taken and supported to don full PPE.  They will then be escorted to the room of their loved one.  Care Partners are not permitted to engage with any other resident whilst in the building.

Non Care Partner Visits (General Visits)

In addition to care partners, from Monday 1 March 2021, Larchwood Care will be facilitating non-care-partner visiting in all Homes.  These general visits can either be accommodated in the designated visiting area or in resident rooms for those who are unable to come to the visiting area.

All general visits must be pre-booked and you will be asked a series of risk assessment questions as part of this booking process.  Booking can take place Monday – Friday 1000 – 1100 hours or 1400-1500 hours, by phoning the Care Home.  General visits will accommodate one person to visit once per week.  Visitors must be over the age of 18 years.

In facilitating this wide range of visiting activities and care partner arrangements you will understand the burden placed on staff time to undertake the administration and facilitation of these.  Each Home will therefore have a maximum number of general and virtual visits available per week and we would ask that all relatives, family and friends are understanding of this.

All visitors, including Care Partners, in their daily lives are reminded of the need to ensure good personal hygiene, use of face coverings as required and to exercise their judgement on the need to use public transport for the benefit of all residents and staff in the Home.

Yours sincerely,

Nuala Green

Managing Director