Covid-19. Nurse home life goes far beyond the pandemic
They are one of the groups most vulnerable to the Covid-19 pandemic that is plaguing the world. The Macao Home of Santa Casa da Misericórdia opened doors to PLATAFORMA, where we witnessed that caregivers are, more than ever, steadfast in supporting the elderly, many of them with various disabilities.
Sunny and hot day in Macau. At the agreed time, we arrived at the Lar de Nossa Senhora da Misericórdia, in partial confinement, to see on the spot what the last months of the caregiver work in pandemic time Covid-19 have been.
After a brief conversation to hit needles, he was sent for a visit to the facilities, at Rua Belchior Carneiro, at the rear of the Ruins of São Paulo, downtown.
We started the visit from top to bottom, from the third floor to the ground floor, so to speak, from the place where the most independent residents are for the bedridden and isolated.
In times of pandemic, the management of the home – owned by Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Macau (SCM) – decided that all elderly people who, for health reasons, go to any of the hospitals in the territory on their return are in compulsory isolation for 14 days for preventive reasons.
On the third floor, the reporting team was received effusively. The elderly, of both sexes, strolled there. Some more easily, others less, but they all wanted to come and greet “the strangers” who appeared there and to know what they were doing. “Seeing beautiful faces!”, We replied. The ladies smiled, some ashamed.
“These gentlemen come to take pictures and see how we work,” said one of the heads of the home to the elderly present, in order to prepare them for the situation. Between rooms, many “hello” and many “zou san”. Photographs were taken, some published in this edition, others not publishable, but which are part of a collection that will later be delivered to SCM.
Downstairs followed. Here, in addition to some residents with mobility, elderly people are already bedridden, completely surrendered to caregivers who, in general, belong to the institution itself. In very particular cases, external workers can be employed who travel to the home to keep company with the weakest.
A Macanese doctor wanted to know more about us and the work. “We are here, above all, to be witnesses of the work of caregivers in this difficult time that we all live in”, we explained.
Group of risk
And, in fact, the elderly are among the groups most likely to contract Covid-19. Although the situation in Macau is more peaceful, it is always important to understand how the homes in the territory have prepared for the pandemic. “If, by any chance, the virus enters here, it will be a catastrophe”, said one of the nurses. Therefore, the isolation of the elderly who need medical support outside the home facilities is justified.
On the first floor and on the ground floor are the older elderly – there are several people over the age of 100 – and the most dependent. There are residents who, in fact, do not move. They are tube fed and barely breathe. Caregivers try, at all costs, to minimize the hardships of an already long end of life with the best possible quality.
A man, flanked by his energetic wife, appears undaunted and serene, lying in bed. If he didn’t breathe, he might have thought he might be dead. The woman asks the assistants to keep the light on that part of the infirmary at night. “I need to see if he is well and some time ago I ended up falling when I moved because the light was off,” he said, with the help of a translation by one of the nurses.
Smell like bossa nova
When leaving that infirmary, and pass the redundancy, we came face to face with a familiar face: Armando Araújo, or better, Armandinho. “Hello, good morning,” said the Brazilian musician, who has lived in Macau for several years. “I’m fine here,” he added. Armandinho is one of the residents who can leave home and move around the city. He still has a life that allows him to enjoy a lot of independence. “I miss my Brazil, where I haven’t been since 1989. If I went now, I wouldn’t be back”, said the musician, who became famous as a jazz drummer.
“Bye, Armandinho, a hug,” we said. The Brazilian waved and went on his way. He was getting ready to go to the street. The visit continued. We were on the ground floor to see some of the signs unveiled by governors and other political figures with history in the territory. A bust of Dom Belchior Carneiro, the first bishop of Macau and founder of SCM, flanks the building’s main staircase.
“Now it’s time for lunch. It’s time, as you can see”, begins by explaining one of the heads of the home. “First come the old people, then the caregivers and so on. There is a variety of food that can go from cod à Brás to minchi. And everyone likes it.”
The motto was set: lunch time. The visit ended with farewells from all those who welcomed the PLATAFORMA team, in a space that welcomes more than 100 people and where affection and focus on life are always premises, especially now in times of pandemic.