Erica and Donald

Erica Reid in conversation with
Donald Macaskill

Donald is CEO of Scottish Care, a membership organisation and the representative body for independent care homes. Erica Reid has recently retired as a community nurse leader in the NHS.

Note 1: March-May

A month before lockdown Donald was preparing for significant change. The news coming out of Wuhan indicated a disproportionate impact on older people. There was an urgency to act when others were not. Was he over-reacting?

Families were told that they would not see their loved ones as Care Homes closed their doors in early March. A man of one hundred years wrote to Donald, pleading to be allowed to see his family. He no longer cared about the quantity of his days, and was prepared to die of Covid if he could only see his family.

Donald empathises deeply with care home residents and feels a aching sadness about their current situation.

Donald  looks forward to regaining the informality of gathering over a ‘strupag’, Gaelic for a cuppa, revealing his  West of Scotland roots. He misses the rhythm and predictabilty of an ordinary day, those days before Covid struck.

Note 2: May-July

Donald has now found a new rhythm to his weeks and days. He says it’s like a stream flowing into the sea. The stream may encounter some boulders but it always finds a way to circumvent them. Maybe one of these boulders is little sense of work/life balance? Donald has worked every day since early March.

These last few weeks have been overshadowed by continuing to keep families apart as care home doors remain closed. Donald believes this protection is now causing harm as residents miss out on connections and relationships.

He misses the creative space that traveling daily by train gave him. Time to clear his head and write. Writing has always been part of Donald’s life. On Saturday mornings, when the house is quiet, he has found that space. This is when he writes his weekly report for his members and a reflective blog. He describes this as an exercise in summary and catharsis.

An essential part of each and every day is time with his young daughter. At bedtime they are currently working their way through Roald Dahl’s books. Although Donald worries that he will soon be made redundant as she is beginning to read her own stories.

Note 3: July-August

Home has been on Donald’s mind in recent weeks. He’s had a short break on the Island of Skye where his roots are, an important part of his early life. The visits are now tinged with sadness remembering the people who are no longer there, those associated with his memories of childhood summers.

He’s also thinking and writing about what home means for care home residents. Is it about connection and relationships? Is it the ability to be who you really are? He is increasingly irritated that during the pandemic we have prevented Care Homes being home. We are robbing people of the experience of home. Lost months with absent relationships and loss of connection.

Donald is worried that people think covid is now only a problem for older people and care homes. Have people stopped listening? He recoils when he sees the lack of social distancing on the beach near his home.

His daughter is enjoying being back in school. Roald Dahl continues to be their bedtime companion, reading a pleasure for them both.

Leave a Reply