Joy of receiving a loving touch: Trial at Wolverhampton care home could open up routine visits at last

It is a moving glimpse of what could happen in care homes – residents enjoying meaningful contact with their loved ones.

Back together – Sian Stenton is able to have meaningful visits to her mother Margaret Edwards thanks to a care home trial
Back together – Sian Stenton is able to have meaningful visits to her mother Margaret Edwards thanks to a care home trial

A trial at a care home could open up routine visits at last, enabling families to finally comfort relatives who have had no meaningful contact for months.

The project at Sunrise Senior Living UK and Gracewell Healthcare care homes is being watched nationwide, especially with the promised arrival of quick-fire testing for all.

And for 96-year-old Margaret Edwards it has brought her valuable time with her daughter Sian Stenton.

Mrs Edwards lives at the Sunrise home on Wergs Road, Tettenhall, Wolverhampton.

Her daughter has signed up to strict rules, with weekly tests, training in using personal protective equipment and agreeing to a contract setting out how she should reduce risks.

It means she can have regular face-to-face meetings with her mother, who has suffered ill health in recent months.

Difference

She said: “It’s been difficult – my mom was really very ill earlier this year and I’m an only child so I was visiting her as often as I could.

"This just makes all the difference to us. There’s no real substitute for actually being able to see someone – there’s no substitute for being able to sit in front of someone and just talk to them in a normal sort of way, especially with everything at the moment.

“I can’t thank the staff here enough – they’ve all been incredible and we’re just extremely fortunate.”

So far the care home group has enabled almost 300 residents nationally to reconnect with loved-ones.

A similar scheme is likely to be rolled out to other homes ahead of Christmas, helped by quick-result tests and the probable arrival of a vaccine.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We understand the pain and very real consequences of loved ones being separated and we are doing everything we can to allow people to come together.

“We must also get the balance right between reuniting families and ensuring staff and residents of all ages in care homes are safe and well, while preventing the transmission of Covid-19.

“We know some care homes have been taking innovative approaches to allow visits and we are now trialling testing of visitors to people in care to give families more opportunities to reunite and the pilot will provide us the best approach for a national rollout by Christmas.”

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