THE charity in charge of two much-loved Greenock care homes has scooped a top award for its pioneering work to keep residents connected with loved ones during lockdown.

The visits team from Greenock Medical Aid Society triumphed in the 'Nursing Older People' category at the Royal College of Nursing Awards.

The society, which runs Bagatelle and Glenfield care homes in Greenock, was honoured for its work conducting a pilot scheme with the health and social care partnership which allowed residents to receive visits from their families during the pandemic.

Using a mixture of rapid testing, risk assessments and staff co-operation, the team worked hard to 'bring life back' into the homes during times of uncertainty.

Society chief executive Andrea Wyllie said: "When the pandemic hit everything came to a complete standstill overnight.

"The homes were hives of activity - vibrant places that were always buzzing with people coming and going and visitors.

"To go from that to nothing was very difficult for our residents, and even when outdoor visiting was brought in, it just wasn't the same."

The care homes were determined to reintroduce meaningful visiting so that the residents could embrace their loved ones again.

Andrea said: "We took all the steps to make it as safe as possible.

"We also created new jobs specifically to co-ordinate the whole operation.

"Our main mission was to make sure all residents received a hug before Christmas - that was crucial for us."

The work of the Society was so successful that it was implemented across the whole health board area of Greater Glasgow & Clyde.

Andrea says the pilot would not have worked if it wasn't for co-operation with staff and families.

She added: "Our relatives and staff got on board right away - we even had staff volunteering to do extra shifts to make it all happen.

"Of course there were nerves from everyone involved, but all of our residents were pampered beforehand so they looked their best for seeing loved ones again.

"To win this award when we were up against national organisations is such an honour.

"It is testament to the hard work of the staff - including our home managers Carol Chiverton and Alison Shaw - that we were recognised.

"It is lovely for care homes to be viewed in such a good light on a platform like this."