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Care Homes reopen their doors to family visitors

Residents and families of Optalis residential care services had cause to celebrate as in-person visits in care homes were permitted once more, under new guidelines.

On Monday 8th March, we were able to support some emotional family reunions as lockdown restrictions eased.

Highlights of this event were captured at Winston Court Residential Care Home, Maidenhead. Winston Court offers personal and practical support to people with learning disabilities within a safe and caring environment. 

The care team have ensured that residents have been able to maintain connections with family and friends throughout the pandemic. The team kept people in touch using video calls, and secured funding for a covered garden gazebo, which enabled outdoors visits over the summer months. However, excitement built as for the first time in a year, a nominated visitor could enter the home and hold hands with their loved one.

On the day, a member of support staff checked visitors for Covid using 30-minute lateral flow tests. Following a short wait, and a negative result, relatives placed on Personal Protective Equipment and entered the home.

Peter, 86, visited his son, Daniel James, 49, on Monday after more than three months apart. Prior to restrictions, Daniel would regularly visit home and has missed being able to hug his Dad, Peter.

Peter comments: “We’ve all been missing Daniel and this past year has been incredibly tough as we’ve not been able to give him a cuddle, have him round on the weekend or see him as much as we’re used to. The first lockdown was the hardest as we went a long time without seeing him in person. Facetime calls have helped but this is a steady step to bring back normality and speaking with Daniel we know he couldn’t contain his excitement to see me. And nor could I.”

Watch Peter and Daniel's visit

Diana Swaffield, 91, also visited her daughter Miriam, 67, on Monday. Until now, restrictions have meant that Diana has only been able to visit outside, whatever the weather. The team have supported this with a pop-up tent to protect Diana from the elements and support window visits.

Diana says: “It’s been a long year so being able to regularly visit again is going to make a huge difference. The Optalis team have been fantastic at accommodating outdoor visits. We’re still some way off from being able to give each other a hug and a kiss but being able to hold her hand means we’re getting closer.”

Watch Diana and Miriam's visit

Charlotte Sehmi, Registered Manager at Winston Court, said: “Monday marked a really positive day as we reopened our doors safely once again. We’ve been able to keep residents in touch with families throughout the year, but nothing can replace that human contact and seeing your loved one in person.

“Something as small as holding hands, which we took for granted a year ago, has been amazing for both the residents and families. Monday was an emotional day for all, and we are so pleased that finally loved ones can be reunited.”

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