Following the Government’s announcement on Monday that care homes across the country will be able to open their doors to nominated visitors from March 8, relatives of Heathlands Village’s residents and tenants are excited to know they will soon be able to hold their loved ones’ hands.
Andrea Donner, whose mother Marlene has been a resident of the home’s Wolfson household since March 2019, said, “I know it will do Mum a lot of good – which is my main concern. For her to have my physical presence, unimpeded by any screens, will just make her feel more loved and secure.”
Visits are currently limited to seven special visiting spots around the home’s buildings – four indoor ‘pods’ and three outdoor shelters, with a potential of 30 visits a day – or 180 per week being coordinated by Josh Thomas the home’s Operations Coordinator.
“Coordinating the visits takes up about 50% of my working day,” explains Josh who also helps supervise the home’s hospitality service.
The indoor pods get booked up first with the outdoor spots providing an overflow service.The pods are set up with intercom systems and visitors and Villagers enter from different sides and are separated by a floor to ceiling glass screen.
Relative Sharon Hood sees her mum quite frequently via Facebook portal but wanted to ‘see her properly’:
“It was very emotional when we had our first pod visit but really lovely, and she was teasing me about my bright red tights! I’m planning on going on Friday for Purim in full fancy dress!”
Karen Sonenberg and her sister Bev Doyle have recently enjoyed several video visits with their Aunt Joyce, facilitated by the home’s activity team, on one of two giant 42–inch touchscreen ‘tablets’. fitted with wheels wheeled, which can be easily moved to people’s rooms or quiet sitting areas.
The screens were donated by Menorah Zion Lodge, East Lancashire Masonic Charity and the Masonic Charity Foundation.
“It’s great seeing our aunty remotely and in the pods and opening up the home to visitors as long as this is safely is tremendous.”
Activity coordinator, Elaine Connolly explained:
“The screens are amazing! With such a big screen, residents can see their relatives very clearly. The calls seem to be more enjoyable than on handheld devices and tend to last longer because both sides are much more engaged.”
The Fed’s Chief Executive, Mark Cunningham reacted to the government’s announcement with a combination of delight and caution:
“We are delighted to have been given the green light to facilitate in-person visiting by a nominated visitor from March 8. In terms of our residents’ wellbeing this is the best news so far and a great addition to the systems we currently have in place for pod and remote visiting. Those will continue even as we introduce face-to-face visits. But there are some caveats and we don’t want to rush things.
Our advice to relatives is very clear – we want to postpone the start of in-person visits another couple of weeks still, to allow time for our residents to receive their second jab, and for their boosted immunity to kick in.
We are currently waiting for confirmation of when the second doses can be administered and should have a date anytime now. I really want people to think to themselves ‘I’ve waited a year.
It’s worth another couple of weeks to get it absolutely right – and do everything possible to minimise the risk. I know if it was my mum I’d want to wait.”
Karen and Bev both strongly endorse Mark’s views saying. “we would much rather wait just a little bit longer to ensure everybody is as well protected as possible.