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Two Swindon Borough Council-run care homes have created special COVID-safe areas so family members can safely meet their loved ones.

Published: Tuesday, 1st December 2020

Staff at Fessey House in Haydon Wick have put together cosy visiting areas complete with decorative lights, candles and flowers to make their visits as special as possible.

Whitbourne House in Park South has also implemented similar arrangements this week as staff have put a small marquee on the outside of the home’s conservatory so family members can see their relatives through a glass window eliminating the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Both homes have installed their own intercom system so visitors can chat with the residents.

Fessey House and Whitbourne House both cancelled visits back in March a week before the country went into lockdown to protect their residents from COVID-19.

Since then, the homes have used phone calls and video calls on tablets as a means of keeping residents in touch with family and friends.

Lucy May’s mum Rosie has been a resident at Fessey House since March 2013 and had not ventured out of her room in that time, that is until staff created the new visiting area for relatives and friends.

“My mum is 90 and has dementia,” explained Lucy. “Since she moved into Fessey she has always wanted to stay in her own little space so has never left her room.

“So it was absolutely amazing that when I went to see mum last week she was sat there waiting for me behind the window in the new visiting area. It is a moment I will never forget and that is all down to the staff at Fessey who have created such a lovely space for the visitors. They have put so much thought and effort into it - it’s perfect.

“I cannot thank the staff enough. They have had a tough eight months and they have put their lives on hold for our loved ones.”

Lucy added: “I completely understand why the care home decided not to allow visitors at the start of the pandemic because I would never have forgiven myself if I had gone into the care home and unknowingly passed on COVID to mum. It has been really difficult, but I have Skype at home and I’ve been using that to speak to mum every week. But now I can see her in person which means the world to me.”

Tony Wilkinson recently visited his 89-year-old mum Doris for the first time since before the first lockdown. “It was very emotional,” explained Tony. “The new visiting area is very nice and they have done a great job.

“It was very difficult not being able to see mum. We used to Facetime her throughout the week, but it’s not the same as seeing her in person. Mum is very well looked after and although it was hard not being able to visit, we knew she was safe.”

Councillor Brian Ford, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Adults and Health, said: “The COVID-secure spaces have been extremely well received at Fessey House and I am sure the marquee we have put up at Whitbourne House will prove equally as popular. I would like to say a big thank you to all the staff for putting them together.

“Last week was a very emotional experience due to the length of time families have been apart.

“For some residents it was the first time they have been visited by family for quite a while and it’s important to remember that during these difficult times, some more vulnerable members of our community have had a really tough time.”

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