As it becomes increasingly clear that residents and staff of long-term care facilities are especially vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19, protective measures are being put in place across the country. In Nova Scotia, a number of community groups are answering the urgent call of The Mask Project to provide home-sewn cotton masks for residents and cotton or cotton-blend gowns for staff in care facilities, including Northwood. Ruth-Ellen Jackson, Northwood’s volunteer coordinator, says the response has been heartwarming: “Thank you so much for helping Northwood. We need you to wrap your arms around us right now.”
The Seniors Association of St. Margaret’s Bay has urgently mobilized local sewing volunteers—some of them the same generous folks who make the popular cloth Bay Seniors bags—to make cotton masks and gowns for Northwood residents and staff. Volunteers with Bay Seniors Friendly Neighbour Program—itself a response to COVID-19 that offers grocery shopping and delivery and medication delivery to Bay residents without another way to access such necessities—are pitching in to get donated materials to the sewing volunteers and completed masks and gowns to the pick-up location.
That’s where the Community Enterprise Centre (CEC) joins the team. In non-pandemic times, the Centre is a shared work and meeting space and enterprise hub, and some of its members continue to use the video conferencing capabilities for those purposes. But the CEC is now also serving as a central location to train the Seniors volunteer delivery teams in safe handling and distancing protocols, a place to process greeting cards and printed updates for Seniors’ members who are not online and, as of this week, as a central location for masks and gowns to be collected and forwarded to Northwood.
Chris Pelham, the CEC president, says members of the CEC volunteer administration team are making the CEC’s current role possible by “doing a fantastic job following public health guidelines and rigorous cleaning protocols to ensure anything done by the CEC and its members is best practice during this challlenging time.”
Ruth-Ellen Jackson says the entire Northwood family is very grateful for the community’s generous response, noting that the masks are “well accepted” by the residents, and the fabric gowns are “so much better than the disposable gowns” as they are more comfortable for staff to wear and allow for more ease of movement.
How can you help?
Donation of supplies:
If you have cotton fabric to donate for masks, ¼ to ½ inch elastic for masks and wrist openings on gowns, and ½ to 1 inch seam binding/bias tape/twill tape for ties, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A donation of wire that is flexible enough to shape over the nose is also needed for masks. Any 18 or 20 gauge thin copper wire (solid core, not stranded), such as that used for thermostats or doorbells will work well. No pipe cleaners, please, as they break down after several washings. Contact email@example.com if you have wire to donate.
People to sew items (especially gowns):
If you sew, and would be willing to help make masks and gowns, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 902-221-8388 and leave a message. People to sew gowns are urgently needed. Gown fabric and gown and mask patterns will be supplied.