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Living in lockdown at the Oakhaven Home for the frail with no physical contact from his loved ones has not dampened Peter De Kock’s spirit, even after contracting and surviving Covid-19 at the age of 92.
He is a widower, father of nine, and celebrated his 92nd birthday in isolation on 26 June 2020. According to the Western Cape Department of Health, the home gave him a small celebration after he completed his isolation period and calls from his family lifted his spirits even more.
Elderly and high-risk people over 55 with comorbidities are more at risk of becoming severely ill if they contract Covid-19. Staff at the Oakhaven Home implemented various safety measures to protect their vulnerable residents, but the virus still managed to infect Mr De Kock.
Nursing Manager of the Oakhaven Home, Sister Sarie Cloete, explains “I screen all our residents daily and if they show any symptoms of Covid-19, take them to the Heideveld Community Day Centre for testing. Thereafter, all suspected Covid-19 residents are placed in quarantine for 14 days at our Lotus Place home for the frail in Lotus River”.
“I take things as they come, I didn’t worry about being sick” – De Kock
De Kock had a slight cold and flu-like symptoms and was placed in isolation until his test result was available. “His Covid-19 test result came back positive and he was already in isolation in a single room and being taken care of at the Lotus Place where he also peacefully celebrated his 92nd birthday,” says Sr Cloete.
“We also make sure that we provide a small celebration for our residents who complete their isolation period, as many don’t understand why they must stay in a room for so long,” explains Sr Cloete.
“I don’t have any chronic illness and I can’t remember things so well anymore because of my age. I take things as they come, I didn’t worry about being sick,” says De Kock who clearly had a positive attitude during his recovery period.
Family says it was tough not to be there for him
Due to De Kock’s frail memory, he never understood that he had Covid-19, but complied with the rules and respected the decision the staff made on his behalf. His family was informed, but it was hard for them not being able to see him.
When the Covid-19 pandemic started, Sr Cloete was fearful and made sure that she sanitised everything in the home, including the board games and dominoes the residents played with. Getting the residents to wear their masks was a challenge for staff, which required them to explain to residents daily, the importance of wearing a mask. She even made masks for the residents to ensure that each person had their own supply.
De Kock says he is happy to be back at Oakhaven Home and comfortable in his familiar surroundings with familiar faces.