A FATHER and son living over 4,000 miles apart have reunited for the first time in months thanks to one of the new Visiting Lounges at Encore Care Homes.
Andre Mauger, who lives at Great Oaks care home in Bournemouth, turned 100 earlier this year. Simon, his son who lives in Alberta in Canada (4,300 miles away) was unable to visit to celebrate his father’s birthday with him due to the government pandemic restrictions on flights and visiting within care homes.
Encore Care Homes has launched a Covid-safe Visiting Lounge at all three of its care homes in Dorset, and at its home in Hampshire. They feature a floor-to-ceiling Perspex screen, intercom system and hearing loop, offering a safe and comfortable, dedicated place for face-to-face interaction.
Earlier this month, just before the UK’s second lockdown on 5th November, Simon flew over to see his father for the first time since Andre moved to Great Oaks care home in Bournemouth in March. Following his flight, Simon self-isolated for two weeks but says that it was all worth it for the happy look on his father’s face when he set eyes on his son in the Visiting Lounge.
Simon said: “It felt great. He almost ran into the room. I think it’s very well set up. A lot of places don’t have the resources, room and exterior access to set up something like this, so this is really very good.”
Simon said that his father, who was born in Normandy, France, has very good long-term memory but can sometimes experience short-term memory loss. However, they speak almost every day on video call, and Andre also speaks to his daughter, Catherine, who lives nearby.
“He misses seeing me. I know that he misses seeing family overall but because I’m overseas, I think it’s always a little harder for him. He keeps asking if we’re going to meet without the glass screen, so that we can hug, but obviously that’s not going to happen yet.”
Asked how he felt about seeing his son, Andre said: “It was very nice as I probably only see him once a year. It’s not the same as a family meeting in person, but it’s nice because he came especially to see me. I hope next time I see him, I’ll be able to share a hug. I hope this doesn’t go on for years and years.”
Andre’s 100th birthday was marked by the team at Great Oaks on 31st August with a party featuring a specially-made cake, balloons, and a card from the Queen. He enjoys many activities at the care home including word games and helped to craft a poppy wreath for the Remembrance Day memorial display at Great Oaks.
Maggie Tomlin, Home Manager at Great Oaks care home, said: “We’re thrilled that our new Visiting Lounge has allowed our resident Andre to enjoy quality time with his family in a safe and supportive environment. The Visiting Lounge has proven to be a popular and practical solution to help further keep our residents in touch with their families.”