The visitor had flowers and a gift in his hands. That was nice. How he performed was less nice. Alexander Blum had received him at the entrance, he had explained that he should please hand over flowers and gifts for his elderly mother here, at the door to the Caritas senior center St. Albertus in Hohenschönhausen, an employee would hand it over to the jubilee: “Corona virus, risk group, people over 60 years, you know.”
The visitor knew it, yes, he wanted to get into the building anyway. “He has given himself a big boost,” says Blum, the head of the center. “And I was pretty annoyed, he took the danger lightly.”
Blum let him in. Visitors are allowed to visit their relatives for one hour a day, which is the current regulation for the eight Caritas retirement homes in Berlin. “But most of all,” says Blum, “It is natural for us that nobody comes.”
76 residents have the home in Hohenschönhausen, looked after by 55 nursing staff and a further 20 social workers and other employees. 90 percent of the elderly are older than 80 years. They can currently either no longer see their relatives or only to a very limited extent.
In the nursing home there is now a film morning
“If such impulses are missing, of course something falls very important things away, ”says Claudia Appelt, responsible for retirement homes at Caritas as press spokeswoman. But how do the residents deal with it? How do you cope with this limitation emotionally? How much can nurses and other employees fill this gap, mentally and physically? How do the relatives deal with it?
A scene like the angry visitor a few days ago, says Blum, “fortunately is the exception”. Most of the relatives and most of the residents understood that “there are few conflicts”. The biography of many residents suits Blum and his staff.
“Most people experienced completely different things than very limited visiting times,” says Blum. Thomas Gleissner, spokesman for the entire Caritas, has so far received only relaxed comments from the homes as feedback.
In St. Albertus they have now introduced a film morning. Before lunch, well-known stripes flicker on the screen, often in black and white, appropriate to the age. Heinz Rühmann can of course also be seen.
Blum has also launched a newspaper round. So far, the seniors read the daily newspapers alone, now they sit together as a group and talk about texts that are read to them or that they have read themselves.
Visitors must have extensive hands wash
And nobody has to do without the devotions. Since the responsible pastor no longer comes into the home, senior citizens and employees take over. Between the prayers together there are hymns. The 60-minute visit is more of a theory, relatives should only come if there is no other option. Or if a resident should see someone for various reasons, otherwise his psychological suffering will become too great.
It was recently necessary for two wives to see their husbands living in the home. So the couples were led into the garden, there they were allowed to talk, there the women could see that their husbands were fine. “As a relative, you also give up control,” says Blum, “it’s not that easy.”
And the few visitors who still have to wash their hands extensively, provide personal information, but above all they have to ring the bell at the front door. That is new. The visitor with the flowers and the gift marched directly to his mother’s room, which Blum had in mind.
Whether the atmosphere remains so relaxed when the Measures to be tightened by the Senate is the other question. “I expect a curfew,” says Blum. And then? Well then. “I don’t think the residents get hysterical or panic. But one or the other will be restless. “