The festive season is traditionally a time for reflection, a moment to pause and give thanks, and to look forward to new beginnings.
To be frank, 2020 has been a relentless, exhausting year - for all of us.
However, notwithstanding the recent news about the new Covid variant and new restrictions on visiting care homes, there is some light at the end of the tunnel as the first Covid-19 vaccines are rolled out across Scotland, with our Moray homes among the first to receive it. The vaccination programme will take time to deliver but there is now, for the first time in many months, cause for optimism that life can return to normal.
In the meantime, we must remain vigilant. The pandemic is still very much with us, and the risk of a potential third wave in February or March is very real. So, we must keep our guard up to prevent a resurgence of the virus. While we are undoubtedly in a better position than we were at the start of the pandemic, we remain extremely alert. Keeping the virus at bay informs every aspect of our day to day work.
The key to delivering our success has been our outstanding and caring team of staff. I am immensely proud of the sacrifice they have made and it is deeply humbling to see them hard at work, doing everything they can to ensure our residents stay healthy and happy. They are an asset to Parklands and to the communities in which they live and work.
I never tire of telling politicians and stakeholders how incredible our employees are – a relative once aptly described them as the ‘Parklands Angels.’
We were delighted to be named Best Smaller Care Home Group in the 2020 awards and I cannot think of more fitting tribute to our hard working staff.
Parklands also won the ‘Best for Communication’ award and our latest care home, Lynemore in Grantown, was a finalist in the ‘Best New Care Home’ category – two further accolades that reflect the tremendous passion of our team.
The pandemic has forced care operators across Scotland to rethink the way they operate. With visits to care homes suspended for much of the year, we turned to social media and video technology to keep families connected. It has been a godsend and I know how much relatives have appreciated the chance to speak to their loved ones, albeit at a distance.
Things we all take for granted – a hug from family and friends or a visit to a local shop – have been denied to our residents because of the pandemic, and that has been especially painful. The virus has been unforgiving, robbing relatives of precious time with loved ones, but better times lie ahead. With visitor restrictions easing and a vaccine in place, we can now offer some hope and comfort to our residents who have been separated from their family and friends.
While the virus may have kept us physically apart, it has also brought us closer as a community. Individuals, businesses and community groups across Moray and Highland have rallied to offer their support, providing PPE, sanitiser, face coverings and other useful supplies, while local musicians and performers have entertained our residents through the dark days of the pandemic. There are too many to mention individually, but their kindness and generosity of spirit has been overwhelming.
I also want to pay tribute to the team at Aberlour Pharmacy, part of the Parklands group. Up and down the country, community pharmacies have offered a lifeline to their patients, keeping customers supplied with life saving prescriptions and providing valuable social contact, especially important to older patients and those living in remote areas like Speyside.
And so, we look forward to 2021 and an exciting year ahead. Our new care home in Fortrose – Eilean Dubh – will welcome its first residents early in the new year. It is shaping up to be a superb asset for the local community. Residents will enjoy state of the art facilities and awe-inspiring views over the Moray Firth. Meanwhile, next summer, we hope to start work on our Inverness care home and later living village, our largest ever investment. In Moray, we plan to increase capacity at Burnbank in Buckie, and build a new pharmacy in Aberlour. The pandemic has slowed our investment plans - in 2021, we aim to get back on track.
After a difficult year, we look forward with hope in our hearts. On behalf of our team, I wish you peace, joy and happiness for the coming year.
Ron Taylor, managing director, Parklands Care Homes