Joy in Derbyshire care homes as indoor visits resume – reuniting loved ones
There have been emotional scenes in care homes across Derbyshire this week after folk were finally able to visit loved ones in person for the first time in so long.
New Government guidance came into force on Monday, giving one nominated visitor the chance to regularly see their loved one inside their care home.
These visitors take rapid lateral flow tests before every visit, must wear protective equipment and follow all other infection control measures implemented by the care home.
And care homes can continue to offer visits to other family members with arrangements such as outdoor visiting or with temporary visiting pods.
Tracey Turner, manager at The Heights Care Home in New Tupton, said: “It has been terribly hard to see our elderly residents have little or no contact with their loved ones for over a year.
“We have done our utmost to ensure that communication has been maintained as much as possible.
“iPads delivered by Jigsaw24 have been an asset to connect families visually – but there is no substitute for seeing our loved ones face-to-face.
“Now that Government guidelines are permitting us to reintroduce visitors into the home, the emotion seen is absolutely overwhelming sometimes.”
One man whose elderly mother is a resident at The Heights told the Derbyshire Times he had only been able to see her through the window for the past year.
“It was wonderful to finally see her in person again,” he said.
“It was good for her and good for me.”
Eighty-seven-year-old Donald Hopkinson, who has dementia, recently moved into The Heights.
On Wednesday, his sister Janet McKenna was able to go inside the home to visit him after not seeing him for three weeks.
Janet, 73, of North Wingfield, said: “It’s the longest I’ve gone without seeing him.
“Three weeks was long and tough enough so I honestly can’t imagine what it’s been like for those who haven’t seen their loved ones for a year.
“It was lovely to see him and he looked so happy.
“I’m so pleased the rules have changed and I’ll be able to visit my brother in person on a regular basis.”
She also praised all the staff at The Heights.
“They’re absolutely wonderful and really do deserve recognition – everyone in my family would like to say a big thank you to Tracy, Melissa, Jo and everyone else,” she said.
Restrictions on care home visits have been in place over the last 12 months to protect vulnerable residents during the pandemic.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I know how important visiting a loved one is and I’m pleased we are now in a position for people to be carefully and safely reunited with loved ones who live in care homes.
“This is just the first step to getting back to where we want to be.
“We need to make sure we keep the infection rate down to allow greater visiting in a step-by-step way in the future.”
A Government spokesperson added: “All care home providers not experiencing an outbreak will be asked to follow the updated guidance and continue to work together with families and local professionals to ensure visits are possible while continuing to limit the risk of transmission of Covid-19.”