Residents began face-to-face reunions with families thanks to a Covid-safe visiting approach we introduced after three months of lockdown.
Perspex screens installed in entrance ways at all 21 of our homes enable people to see and talk to each other up close but without the risk of transmitting the virus.
The first reunion was at Canford Chase in Poole between resident Brenda Dyer and her daughter Beverley Darbyshire.
Like other families, their only means of communication after lockdown began in March was on the phone, in video calls and through emails and letters.
“The visit was brilliant,” said Beverley. “It was wonderful to talk to her on the phone and on the iPad but there’s nothing like actually being able to look into her eyes.
“I absolutely get why the screen is there. It was wonderful to see her so close and yet know that she was safe and I was safe, and neither of us were putting anyone else at risk. I was really thrilled that I was able to see her.”
Brenda said: “It was real morale boost. It makes me feel a lot more optimistic that I may be able to see more of my family over the coming months.”
Canford Chase Home Manager Charlotte Wilson said: “We’ve done amazingly well so far with social distancing, PPE, testing and controls on admissions and visits. We were delighted to be able to introduce the safe visiting solution and see our residents and relatives reconnecting. It’s heartwarming.”
Across the 21 homes, relatives and friends book half-hour time slots for the visits so that everyone has a fair opportunity. Visitors are also guided through a full safety procedure.
There was an extra special reason to celebrate the first reunion at Amberwood House in Ferndown.
It gave resident Gladys Blythe, known as Joan, the chance to celebrate her 72nd wedding anniversary with visiting husband Peter.
Before lockdown, Peter had visited daily, with the pair also phoning each other three or four times a day.
Peter said: “This has been the longest time we have been apart since we got married in June 1948. It has been difficult, and it was so lovely to see her again.”
Eleanor Abrams, Amberwood House Home Manager, said: “It was heartbreaking that Peter’s visits had to stop because of lockdown and it was so emotional that they were able to see each other again, especially on their anniversary.
“Joan was rather nervous beforehand, she said it was like preparing for walking down the aisle again.
“For all our residents, it had been a time of excitement. Some had been a little nervous about how the visits would work but after they had seen their loved ones again they were so happy. It’s just lovely.”
Watch the video
To watch a short film about Beverley and Brenda’s reunion visit www.youtube.com/ColtenCare