Residents at Royal Star & Garter have held hands with loved ones for the first time in nearly a year.
It marked residents’ first physical contact with relatives since the Covid-19 lockdown began in March 2020, after the government gave the green light for indoor visits to commence.
Royal Star & Garter is a charity which provides loving, compassionate care to veterans and their partners living with disability or dementia.
Guidelines permit a single, designated visitor to meet each resident indoors, in specially adapted rooms.
All guests wear PPE and take a lateral flow test before entering the Homes, and the rooms are thoroughly cleaned following each hour-long visit.
The meetings began in the charity’s Solihull and High Wycombe Homes on Monday 8 March. Indoor visits at the Surbiton Home are expected to begin later this month.
Among the first visitors at the High Wycombe Home was Judi, who spent time with her husband, Army veteran Alan. She said: “It’s been absolute hell not being able to touch him all this time. I was so excited before seeing him and it was amazing to hold his hands.” Alan, who is living with dementia, described the visit as “lovely.”
In Solihull, resident Patricia was visited by her husband Gerald. He said: “I was so happy to come into the Home after so long apart. Being able to hold Pat’s hand means we are close together once more. Knowing she is well cared for makes me feel relaxed at home.”
Visits have been taking place between residents and loved ones since last June, when the charity was able to offer socially-distanced outdoor visits. Visits continued through the winter months when the charity received funding to build a number of Covid-secure rooms in its Homes. Visits in the Covid-secure rooms, which permit two visitors at a time, will run alongside the new indoor visits.
Pauline Shaw, Director of Care at Royal Star & Garter, said: “Our staff have provided amazing, loving care during the Covid-19 crisis. It’s truly been care with courage. But nothing can replace a visit from a loved one. We saw that with the outdoor and Covid-secure room visits, and the boost it gave residents. Being able to now hold hands will mean the world to people we care for. It’s been a long wait for everyone involved and our residents have shown such resilience and strength. We are all so delighted that they can have these wonderful reunions.”