Thirteen weeks ago, Ridgeway Rise care home made a decision to reduce all non-essential visits due to the risk brought in by COVID-19. Relatives were able to keep in touch with their loved ones via Skype and FaceTime. However, it is not the same as seeing them in person. Bella Balaci (General Manager) said: ‘As a team we worked very hard applying recommended protection measures to create a safe cocoon and we have not had any symptomatic residents since the beginning of the pandemic. All residents and team members were tested and results came back negative. We felt it was the right time to start thinking about visits.’

The North Swindon Care Home came with an idea of Meeting Hubs. Taking advantage of ground floor rooms with direct access to the garden, they implemented social distancing rules and set up little meeting stations. The resident was inside the building and their visitors 6 ft apart on the other side of the table. There was a limit of 3 visitors per resident and a visit lasted 30 minutes. Guests were accessing the garden through the outside gate, they were asked to use hand sanitiser before and after the visit and wear face shielding.

Visits happened over three days giving everyone an opportunity to book a time slot and see their loved ones.

Breda Hewer’s dad is one of the residents at the care home “After 13 weeks of lockdown – it meant the world to see my father in the flesh. He looked so fit and healthy – ALL THE STAFF are amazing to not only the residents but their families. The Facebook photographs kept us all going. My father has a daughter, Pauline in Spain and family in Ireland, we used live chat during the visit, so everyone was able to see Dad.’

Bernadette Russell, a relative of another resident expressed her appreciation for the team saying “Thank you so much for arranging this visit.  I was so impressed with the thought and planning that your team have put in to make this possible.  The attention to detail in ensuring the resident was safe and protected, through social distancing and ensuring visitors were thoroughly sanitised before and after the visit.”

Joe Kelly has been at Ridgeway Rise since October 2019. After the meeting he said: ‘I was very emotional to see my two sons. I could not believe what was happening, such a beautiful surprise. Thank you for making it happen, I hope I can see them again soon.”

Ridgeway Rise team have worked determinedly during the time of the crisis ensuring the safety, health and wellbeing of their residents is maintained. Bella Balaci added “We all understand how vital it is to stay in touch with your relatives. We will do our best to create more opportunities before this difficult time is over”

Residents and families have shown appreciation for the teams’ effort with sweet gifts, flowers ‘Thank You’ cards and video messages.