Residents of an Aberdeen community have raised thousands of pounds which will fund a memorial bench at a care home.
Funded through a community Just Giving page, the bench will commemorate residents of Kingswells Care Home, who lost their lives due to the coronavirus.
A plaque will also pay tribute to the staff at the home, who work tirelessly in the service of their residents.
And yesterday at 7pm, a piper played outside the assisted living facility in appreciation of its frontline workers.
A number of residents also attended the occasion, and took part in the socially distanced clap for the Kingswells carers.
Care homes have been hit hardest during the crisis, with many staff over-worked, over-burdened and over-stressed.
In the north-east, the deaths of 213 people have been linked to Covid-19 – with half of those dying in care homes alone.
After the death of six residents at Kingswells Care Home, Nicky Caldwell, 46, decided to take action and set out to raise funds for their carers.
And it wasn’t long before others joined her.
She said: “What inspired me was a doctor on Radio Scotland saying we don’t need your help, it’s the carers who do. They’re going through an absolute nightmare.”
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Inspired by the broadcast, she set up the Just Giving page last Thursday, which raised £500 overnight.
In just a few days the amount raised has exceeded £2,000, and the Kingswells community decided they had more than enough funds, to purchase a bench honouring staff and residents.
She said: “Because they lost so many people, we also decided to give a bench from the community with a plaque paying tribute, so the carers have welcomed that.”
As well as this, they have provided pamper packs worth £100 each to staff at the home, to help them unwind and relax.
Nicky says she is in “constant contact” with staff at the home, to ensure they are purchasing items and products which are most needed and wanted by carers on the front-line.
She said: “All their hands are cracked from just washing them so much, so they asked for some hand cream. They’ve just been so thankful.”
Overwhelmed by the show of support, she initially thought about cutting the fundraiser short, but community spirit continues to drive it forward.
She said: “I was going to stop the fundraiser tomorrow, because I didn’t want anyone to think I was taking it too far, but my local councillor suggested that we keep it going and maybe we can donate to other care homes.”
Nicky also believes it is vital that people take practical steps, in order to do their bit and help within their own communities during these unprecedented times.
She said: “We’ve been clapping every Thursday evening for the NHS and they deserve it, but the care homes will continue to live like this for a very long time and they’ve been most affected
“Clapping is great for showing our appreciation, but it’s not really getting to the heart and helping.”
While some have suggested that the funds are split between medical staff, Nicky says the donations will be sent out solely to care homes and their key-workers.
She said: “You’ve got to remember these people are not on great wages.
“Half of them are probably on minimum wage and they’re going in and risking their own lives and seeing people suffering.
“I just take my hat off to them. What an amazing job they do.
“On the page so many people said we should be sharing the money with the doctors surgery and I thought no, that’s not what I started it for.
“It’s going to the care homes, they’re the ones that are suffering, not the doctors surgery really.”
She has praised her community and applauded everyone who has backed the fundraiser, and pledged their money and support to a worthwhile cause.
She said: “We want to open this up to all care homes in Aberdeen and ask every community to join us.”
Councillor Steve Delaney of the Kingswells Ward, said that people were deeply affected after the deaths of Kingswells Care Home residents.
He said: “Everyone in the community felt that, because for carers working with elderly people they’re very passionate, and they go the extra mile to help others and make them as comfortable as possible.
“So the community has come together to support the carers working in the care home.
“There’s a great community spirit there. It’s an excellent community at Kingswells.
“They do all come together and help each other out.”
Liane Bruce, Manager of Bon Accord Care, said: “On behalf of everyone at Kingswells Care Home we would like to express our heartfelt thanks to everyone in our community for all your efforts.
“We are overwhelmed by your generosity and are extremely appreciative.
“The fantastic community spirit shown sets a great example of people really coming together in times like these.
“We look forward to welcoming our families and the community back into the home when it is safe to do so.”