At the Centro Popular de Lagoa nursing home, smiles were seen through the windows of those who were exercising their right of vote. This new initiative to promote early voting in nursing homes is a new way of voting without leaving home for residents in nursing homes or for those who are infected and, as a consequence, can’t leave their houses.

At the same time, vaccines arrived this week and promise to be a reason of hope and happiness.

“This is the light of the end of the tunnel”, says Telma Rio, technical director. This week the nursing home had two important moments, the presidential election vote which took place early on 19 January and the first phase of vaccination during the days of 20 and 21 January.

The vote took place regularly, the elderly stayed inside; with a window separating them from the Town Hall staff who were collecting the votes outside the building. For this electoral act, Director Telma was the intermediary between voters and collectors, guaranteeing secrecy on the voting.

In total, 22 people exercised their right to vote on 19 January, a number that the director considered to be positive. “In the universe of elderly people who used to go to vote, we now have perhaps twice the number of people voting inside the nursing home. We have a lot of people wanting to vote”.

This is because in all these years people who were psychologically healthy, but had motor difficulties, had difficulty leaving the nursing home to vote. “At this moment it is possible to mobilise those who really want to vote”, explained Telma Rio.

Regarding the application process, Telma said that it was quite simple. Also, it is hoped that in the future this type of voting may be able to continue to guarantee that more people in nursing homes will exercise their rights and to combat high historical numbers of abstentions.

The happiness of being vaccinated
Although no outbreak of Covid-19 has taken place in this nursing home, expectations for immunisation are very high. “This is a daily fight”, confesses Telma Rio. “We have all the measures in place, we are complying, we are monitored by the entities, our staff are aware, but there is a component called luck, and this luck has been with us, but we don’t control it, and for this reason, the vaccine for us something spectacular”, she said.

Residents usually ask: “When is the vaccine coming?”, “When can I go outside?” Telma Rio explains: “The nursing home is closed and they hear a lot of news on Covid-19 and vaccines and this raises doubts, but we received a lot of information from the entities that helped to make people feel safe”. In general, the vaccine was very well received and those who didn’t accept had justified reasons.

In the next 21 days, the next dose is expected to arrive at the home and until then they will wait for recommendations from DGS before making any new decisions. However, the most important thing is that this group, who are very tired of being confined, will be closer to the freedom that this virus has taken from them. Also the entire staff can finally take a deep breath on this situation after months of fear and work to keep these 77 residents of the nursing home safe.

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