The staff team at Belmont Cottages.
Staff at a Derry supported living scheme who made Christmas come early for a terminally ill resident have won a major award.
Belmont Cottages won the ‘Best Housing Story’ category at last night's 2020 CIH Housing Awards in Belfast's Titanic Centre.
They received the award for the end of life care they provided for a woman who had lived there for 26 years.
The home supports adults with a learning disability to live as independently as possible and become an integral part of the community.
In September 2019 one of the home's original residents was diagnosed with an end stage palliative illness.
The staff felt it was important she would remain at Belmont Cottages to be cared for among familiar faces so she could pass away as peacefully as possible surrounded by family and friends.
Staff at the home worked around the clock with the district nurse, hospice nurse and Marie Curie nurses to make her feel comfortable.
They also ensured there was always a familiar face with the resident on a one-to-one basis throughout day and night to help ease any anxieties.
After being told in early October that the resident did not have long to live, staff decided to hold one last Christmas for her.
Seamus Crossan, manager of Belmont Cottages, dressed up as Santa and staff decorated her room and played Christmas music.
The resident passed away peacefully six days later, in her own home surrounded by her family and friends.
Mr Crossan said he was proud of how his staff went above and beyond to make her last days so happy.
"Care and compassion is always at the forefront of our service to our residents, however during this sad and emotional time we all came together as a team to help make the best of the last days for our resident.
"She was one of the first residents to move into Belmont, we felt it was only right to put everything in place to ensure a peaceful and dignifying last few days.
"As the manager I was proud to witness, first hand, the outstanding care and attention that was provided by my staff team during this time.
"It is an honour to win this award and it is uplifting for the staff to see that the care and compassion we deliver has been recognised."
Deirdre Walker, Apex’s Director of Supported Living, said: "The staff team at Belmont Cottages is deserving of this award because of the compassion and care they showed towards someone in the end stages of their life.
"They embraced the value and importance of home; and overcame all obstacles to ensure a resident remained at home during a remarkable and emotive time for all.
"Not only did they provide 24/7 comfort and support to this lady in her final weeks, working outside the perimeters of their own roles; they brought Christmas to Belmont Cottages in October so that she could celebrate Christmas one last time in a special way."
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