CHRISTMAS AT CARE HOMES: All I want is a hug‘Keep your promise’ warning
As Christmas presents go it’s not much to ask for: a visit with her daughters and a hug is all Megan Hickin really wants.
Mrs Hickin, 86, is a resident at Quinton House care home, and while she is happy there and has nothing but the highest praise for the staff, as lockdown continues she is desperately missing seeing her daughters who, she says, are a big part of her life.
Home manager Bill Mehta said: “We went into full lockdown in early October. There have been no visits except for compassionate end-of-life residents. We had to step up to keep our residents and staff safe through this second challenging period.
“Families are understanding but it is difficult. Luckily we have remained free of Covid since April.”
Like many care homes, Quinton House has tried to ease the emotional suffering of residents by finding ways for them to connect with their loved ones.
The home has welcomed a special visiting pod, which is currently being installed and will be ready next week.
Mr Mehta said: “While Megan won’t be able to hug her daughters, she will be able to talk closely and spend valuable time with them.”
Another home taking the innovative step of introducing a visiting pod is Scholars Mews Care Home in the heart of Stratford.
Manager Sharon Wassing said contact with relatives had been digitally maintained, using video calls. She added: “What they really crave is the physical contact – a hug, holding hands.”
During the summer, the home was able to host half-hour visits in its gardens, but with the second lockdown and the onset of winter, Mrs Wassing was thinking of ways to host visits when she received an email.
“It was from a company called Wild Environments with a picture of a pod big enough to host visits. It looked ideal for what we needed to ensure that our residents were able to maintain contact with their loved ones regardless of the weather.
“It was built and open within six days. The pod has heating and lighting as well as a screen which is sealed to prevent any risk of Covid-19 transmission. No one needs to wear a mask in the pod so residents can hear more clearly, although the pod does have speakers and link to hearing aids.”
She added: “It is very emotional seeing loved ones reconnecting after the first lockdown. It does bring tears to your eyes when you see the smiles and laughter and obvious happiness. It makes this job in very difficult times much easier.”
THE government has pledged twice-weekly tests to enable face-to-face visiting at care homes before Christmas – but local care home managers say they have seen little evidence of this.
“We need a fast turnaround of results. Offering safer visits is some- thing we are keen to embrace and is especially poignant at Christmas. We would have appreciated being involved.”
Bill Mehta, manager at Quinton House, told the Herald: “The scheme has been non-existent in Stratford. They’ve said they are piloting it, but they haven’t included us – which we would have welcomed.
Scholars Mews Care Home man- ager Sharon Wassing added: “It has been a very difficult year but I am very pleased that the care sector is now being recognised and being made a priority.”