A care home near Spilsby has been left devastated following the sudden death of 18 of its residents due to Covid-19.
Dedicated staff at The Old Hall in Holton Holgate hit the headlines last year when they moved into a caravan in the grounds at the start of the outbreak to protect residents.
Over the months they have shared with the Standard a number of their efforts to raise the spirits of residents and relatives, including making inspirational posters with messages.
However, on the run-up to Christmas an ‘horrendous’ outbreak of the virus saw two-thirds of the 27 residents die and two staff treated in hospital.
The first death from Covid took place on November 16 and most of those who died were in their 90s - the youngest being 79 and the oldest 99.
Some of the deaths were so sudden staff did not have the chance to arrange for loved ones to say goodbye, manager Diane Vale told the Standard
“We tried our best to protect our residents, but the virus got in,” said Diane.
“We are not the only ones - other care homes in the area were affected.
“The virus is so virulent at the moment and it spread here so quickly.
“All 27 residents tested positive on the same day, as well as 20 out of 28 staff.
“It was awful, we lost 18 residents altogether.
“I have been a manager for 40 years and have never had to deal with anything like it – it was horrendous.
“Originally there were no symptoms and the symptoms they tell you to look for, such as a continuous cough or high temperature, there was no indication of that.
“You get used to losing residents –that is the nature of a care home and the life expectancy when you are in a care home is two years. You expect to lose residents periodically but not that quickly and in that number.
“The effects on staff emotionally and mentally are horrendous.
“For a lot of residents, we did not have time to bring them to the hospital because they were not poorly for long enough.
“We were talking to doctors on a daily basis but with a lot of them there were no signs they were going to die.
“We had one lady who had a full bowl of porridge in the morning, and ate her lunch and she died the next day. Some of the deaths were even quicker than that.”
Diane says Christmas was a particularly hard time for them.
“We tried to give them a nice time,” she said.
“I’m sure they did have a nice time.
“All we can do now is look to the future and carry on doing our best and hope the virus doesn’t get in again.
”We are lucky to have some new residents now and are concentrating on keeping them safe and happy.”
Diane says she is proud of her staff for their continued hard work and support.
“My staff got me through and continue to be amazing.
“Anyone who thinks Covid is a hoax needs to come to a care home or hospital and see what it is like.
“They are on their knees.”