There were emotional scenes at a care home where residents were allowed to meet family members for the first time in weeks – albeit at a distance.
The Eothen care home in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, is carrying out routine coronavirus testing of staff and residents, and so far none of the 33 people who live there have come down with the virus.
The management team has now allowed family members to meet their loved ones face-to-face outside, while maintaining safety standards.
Care home manager Dawn Esslemont explained that visitors were asked to make sure they felt fully well and they were temperature-tested upon arrival, and that visits were by appointment only.
They then go through a side gate into the garden of the home where they could see their relative while they maintain a two-metre gap, with the strict rule of no physical contact.
Mrs Esslemont said: “Because we have been so lucky not to have any coronavirus in the home – none of the residents have any symptoms – we have taken the small steps forward to make sure residents can have access to their relatives.
“It’s lovely for the residents to see them face-to-face, we have been working very hard trying to keep them in touch via phone, FaceTime and Zoom, but they are not the same.
“There’s no hugs, kisses or touching as we have to be careful, we need to take little steps forward.”
Among the first visitors were John Yeoman, 62, and his wife Denise, 63, who were visiting his 90-year-old mother Margaret.
Mrs Esslemont said: “You could see the emotion, and it was lovely to see that.”
The manager was full of praise for the efforts of her 42 members of staff who have shielded themselves at home and stuck to the guidelines to protect the residents, aged between their 70s and 105, who they look after.
She said: “They have pulled together.
“It has been extremely hard, worrying about coming to work and supporting the residents as best we can, then worrying about possibly taking it home to the family.
“I think the staff have made a lot of commitment to the home and they have done a fabulous job.”