Left to right: Sean Harris (Ag Deputy Manager); Sharon Ratcliffe (COVID-19 Coordinator), Suzanne Romero (Clinical Nurse Manager)

St Bernadette’s Resource Centre resumed normal activity on Monday 22nd February 2021. This follows a robust inoculation programme arranged for service users who have now received their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Under the Leadership of Sharon Ratcliffe, COVID-19 Coordinator for the Care Agency, the inoculation programme commenced on 16th January 2021 and has now been completed.

In conjunction with Public Health guidelines, St Bernadette’s Resource Centre will be promoting social distancing, adhering to social bubbles and the stringent use of PPE, ensuring that the Health and Safety of its service users and its staff remain at the core of day-to-day practice.

During the first closure in March 2020, in order to support service users, allocated Care Workers attended their residences to support them and their families. They were provided with sensory, personal and social programmes. Staff only worked with their allocated service user and their family only and did not mix with any others to ensure overall health and safety was preserved.

The centre reopened in June 2020 at a reduced capacity, in keeping with public health advice to minimise risk. Furthermore, service users' access to the community was also limited and health and safety measures were in constant review.

It was a difficult period for staff and most importantly for service users who were unable to socialise with their friends and resume their routine therapies and activities in a therapeutic environment.

As the COVID-19 cases increased in mid-December 2020, the difficult decision was taken to close doors for a second time. The Centre has remained closed until the end of January 2021.

Now, after a period of careful planning, St Bernadette’s Resource Centre commenced a phased reopening as from 1st February 2021 with the administration of the second dose of the vaccine as well as the continued social distancing and other control measures.

Head of Disability Service, Majella McMullan, said: “The COVID-19 worldwide pandemic has had a dramatic impact on society in general. St Bernadette’s Resource Centre was no different and users and families alike were affected. We are very pleased to be resuming our activity.”

CEO of the Care Agency, Carlos Banderas, said: ”I would like to use this opportunity to recognise the team efforts within Disability Services for the careful planning and consideration given to the phased reopening.”

Minister for Health and Care and Justice, Samantha Sacramento MP, said that the reopening of St Bernadette’s Resource Centre was positive news as the community strives to regain a semblance of normality. She added: “I would like to welcome back all the service users of St Bernadette’s Resource Centre so that they can get back to their routine after a difficult period for them and their relatives. As well as thanking the staff at the Care Agency for their dedication to service users during this difficult time, I would also like to thank the GHA and other frontline services for their hard work and for delivering an impressive vaccination programme to release us from the clutches of a deadly virus that has caused much suffering to the community.