Staying locked in an elderly care facility for fifteen days and fifteen nights, to avoid contagion and to put the most fragile people at risk. A real cloister, but different. Among the many Italian stories there is also this: Antonella Galluzzo is a nurse who worked in a Lombard RSA, the “Domus Patrizia”. Eighty elderly people attended for fifteen days with a colleague, without ever leaving the facility. Her message of encouragement gives hope, especially in these weeks when, on the one hand, the number of infections decreases, the residencial care homes that registered the highest number of deaths. We will tell you about the testimony of the nurse Antonella.
The nurse Antonella, a testimony of courage
“That was my home because it made me feel i was helpful” and now that she has returned to her home, however, she feels in prison. Because service to the elderly has not only gratified her from a working point of view, but has taught her how important it is to give hope even to those in difficulty. The nurse Antonella together with another colleague assisted the elderly of the structure, sleeping a few hours a night on a mattress on the floor and depriving themselves of many things. Such as getting out of the balcony to get some air, to avoid setting a bad example. In fact, she feared that even one of the elderly could get sick: the spread of the virus would have been inevitable.
The total closure of the structure: the nurse Antonella tells it, a system that worked
To avoid contagion, detailed team work was started. The five-storey facility in Milan has been completely closed off. Together with the nurse Antonella other thirteen social and health workers and a cleaner. And, in the event of an emergency, a doctor who was outside, however. Discussions and contrasts are inevitable, Antonella told Agi, “but in front of our elders we are always united and attentive to their smallest needs”.
A detailed organization to survive
Intense work shifts to provide assistance and to make sure that the guests will not miss a thing: and then beds in the gym, or in the medical room. There are those who slept those few hours a night in the hairdresser, in the closet or in the archive. “Meals in the canteen, with food carried on carts and with all precautions, service bathrooms – she said. There was a group chat between those inside and outside. At one point, I shyly asked if a coffeemaker was possible. The next day there arrived two, and what a great joy that coffee is not the machine.”
The experience with the elderly
Inevitably living in close contact with the elderly, relationships, interactions with them also change. Who perhaps did not understand this moment of difficulty, who instead had the clarity to understand everything. “From my experience – stressed the nurse Antonella -, there is no total dementia, there are always moments in which we understand each other, even the most serious, have something to communicate to you. Sometimes I took off my gloves to caress them, to make them feel less alone because there were no family members. By protocol I could not have done it but I was sure that the virus had not penetrated without external inputs. I am proud to have become friends with a grumpy lady with everyone. I conquered it with daily pocket coffees.”
A service made not only of assistance, but also of human relationships, of bonds. And then the inevitable virtual external contacts with family members, through video calls with the phone.
Life outside the structure: empty
Nurse Antonella is 59-years-old. She is widow, and mother of a 20-years-old girl. She has decided to work in the facility to be of service to those who are in difficulty in this emergency period. Upon returning home, she only slept and thought about this experience that changed her profoundly. “At the beginning I felt sad and without adrenaline – she added -, now it’s better, I also remember many funny moments. I’d do it again a thousand times.”