As restrictions are finally beginning to ease in the UK with the Government’s roadmap out of the pandemic, care home residents and their families have been patiently waiting to see their loved ones again. Connection with family and the community has obvious benefits to care home residents and whilst the staff have been exceptional, and often gone over and above their roles, there can be no substitute for an in person visit from a family member.
To ease some of the anxiety around missing family, and helping to alleviate loneliness, a few care homes installed modular building solutions – or visitor pods. Whilst these were able to provide a distanced meeting with a glass divider, and therefore provide some connection to family members, not all care homes had the space to install such a facility at short notice.
Care homes that had been designed in the last decade have had personal space, communal needs and resident’s individual requirements at their core. The provision of individual wet rooms, large communal internal areas, high quality air provision, natural and low-level night lighting, sufficient access routes and corridor space, spacious kitchens to provide nutritious meals plus landscaped gardens have all highlighted how the design of a care home can contribute to a comfortable care home and ensure that staff are able to work in a secure and healthy environment. We have discussed this more in our blog about the health benefits of sustainable efficiently designed care homes.
As of 8th March the Government allowed for a single nominated family member or friend to visit and be allowed inside the home for regular visits. These regulations include:
- Visitors will be tested before each visit using a rapid test
- Holding hands is permitted but hugs and kissing are not and limited physical contact is recommended
- Visitors will need to wear PPE and take all usual precautions
‘It is not a condition of visiting that the visitor or the resident should have been vaccinated. However, it is strongly recommended that all visitors and residents take up the opportunity to be vaccinated when they are invited to do so through the national programme.’
By allowing nominated visitors into the care home, pressure has been eased on care home staff as the constant communication requests from families and residents slowly eases. It’s understandable why residents and families required to be kept informed during lockdown and no doubt understood by the staff too. Visitors are an integral part of the lives of care home residents and staff know that this connection with family and friends is paramount to resident’s wellbeing. During lockdown Colten Care organised ‘care companions’ who are teachers, singers and musicians to provide extra support for group activities and provide some individual chats to help lift spirits if required. The residents felt this gave them added connection to the community while they were unable to see their family.
Ultimately, all care home residents should feel warm, secure and comfortable in an environment that provides this and more. Design of the properties and excellent staff provision go a long way to achieving this but in time a hug from a family member will achieve so much more.