Visitors pod

Longlands has opened a new visitors pod which is enabling families to visit their loved ones inside the home for the first time since the Covid-19 national lockdown in March.

The Pod enables people to safely see and talk to residents in the home.

It has provided a welcome pre-Christmas boost for residents and their families, many of whom have not seen each other face-to-face for nine months.

The pod has been created by installing a new window and microphone system between the conservatory and one of the dining rooms at Longlands, which is situated on Longlands Road.

On arrival, families (a maximum of two people in the same bubble) get their temperatures checked and are asked a few questions relating to Covid-19 symptoms before making their way to the conservatory at the back of the home. Here, they wash their hands before entering the room and are greeted by their loves one sitting on the other side of the glass in the dining room.

They can then see each other and chat using a two-way microphone.

After the visit is over, the families wash their hands again and staff thoroughly clean the room before the next visit takes place.

Among the first to take advantage of the pod visits were Tommy and Julie Dring. They visited Tommy’s mum, 95-year-old Bridget.

Tommy and Judith said: “It was lovely seeing mum again and even though we desperately wanted to hug her after all this time, we understood that this is still not safe, so this was definitely the next best thing.

“Being so close, even with glass separating us, made such a difference and we’re grateful for the work the home has put in to enable this to happen.”

Bridget said: “Hopefully Tommy and Julie will be able to visit me in my room again next year but until then, it was so nice to see them again. I have a large family and used to have a visit every day from someone, so it has been very difficult, but been able to see people face-to-face is so much better than a phone call.”

Longlands had to gain approval from Middlesbrough Borough Council before the visits could start and this involved an inspection of the pod.

Longlands Care Home Manager Tina Kendall said: “Since Covid-19 prevented people from coming inside the home, we have been continually looking at ways to still enable visits to happen, albeit in a safe way.

“In the summer, garden visits were sanctioned by the Government, so these happened in a gazebo we put up, with social distancing still needing to be observed.

“Due to the weather, we were not able to continue this in autumn and winter, so the only way for people to see to their loved ones, apart from video calling, was by looking in the window of our main lounge, but it was very hard for residents to hear what their families were saying and vice versa.

“Having the visitors’ pod is already making such a difference and we’re delighted with the response from residents and their families.”

The visitors pod will now be in place until the Government’s rapid testing scheme enables ‘normal’ care home visits, including being able to hug a loved one, to take place. This was due to happen before Christmas but it is now likely to be the new year before this is rolled out nationally.

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