South Holland care homes welcome back visitors, with safety measures in place
Families can see their elderly loved ones in care homes across South Holland again, but with COVID-19 safety measures in place.
Visiting times are back for residents at nursing and retirement homes in the area after four months of lockdown, when no one other than care staff were allowed to see them.
But the Government's lifting of restrictions on family visits to care homes does come with conditions, including a requirement to make appointments in advance, hand sanitising and two-metre social distancing.
A spokesman for Pearl Healthcare, which runs Capricorn Cottage, Fleet, and Kimberley Care Village, Long Sutton, said: "People wanting to visit the homes must call up and arrange an appointment for a 20-minute slot.
"We are installing thermal facial sensor systems at the entrance to the homes where visitors' temperatures will be read upon arrival, thereby controlling access to the homes based on the readings.
"If an individual has a fever, the door will remain locked and they will be denied access to the home.
"We are also still implementing all personal protective equipment and social distancing measures, as we have done throughout the pandemic."
A statement from Holbeach Hospital, where families were welcomed back three weeks ago, said: "All of the residents that reside with us are vulnerable, therefore, we need to minimise the risk of infection from COVID-19 to in turn reduce the risk of potential transfer of infection to other members of this rather large household.
"Visiting is limited to one hour per day, per resident, with a maximum of two visitors per resident.
"Visiting is by appointment only as we have to ensure that two-metre social distancing can be maintained."
Country Court Care, which runs Ashwood and St John's care homes in Spalding, as well as Beech Lodge in Holbeach St Johns, reopened to visitors yesterday.
A spokesman said: "We are extremely pleased to be able to open our doors again but will be approaching visits with caution for the first few weeks.
"These visits will be on a limited, booking-only basis and will be carefully managed to ensure the safety of our residents and staff.
"All of our homes remain COVID-19 free at this time and all of the measures we have implemented for these visits are designed to keep it that way."
Coun Sue Woolley, executive member for NHS liaison and community engagement at Lincolnshire County Council, said: "I am pleased to be able to announce that care homes can now arrange visits based on new government guidance.
"Of course, safety measures will need to be followed, but this is a big step in combating the isolating effects that older people in care homes and their families have experienced.
"Ideally, visits will take place in a communal garden or outdoor area, accessed without the need to go through a shared building, and booked in advance with the care home."
Melanie Weatherley MBE, chairman of the Lincolnshire Care Association, said: "It has been a difficult few months for our staff and our residents in care homes.
"Not being able to receive visits from loved ones has been painful for many, but we are pleased our members can now bring family members back together again safely.
"Guidance has been issued and it is clear on what we all need to do to protect those living and working in care homes.
"I particularly welcome how this guidance maximises the input of local professionals into how the guidance should be implemented.
"We look forward to working with the Director of Public Health in Lincolnshire on ensuring care homes remain safe places.
"However, this is not a message that says: ‘we are now open for all’.
"If it is not deemed safe to accept visitors at this time, or at any other time whilst we tackle this pandemic, then a care home can make the decision not to accept visitors.
"This is absolutely right if we are to protect some of the most vulnerable members of our community.”
. Staff and residents at St John’s Care Home and Ashwood Care & Nursing Home, both in Spalding, and Beech Lodge Care & Nursing Home in Holbeach St Johns have been enjoying welcoming visitors to their homes this week.
There were many touching reunions at the homes as residents were able to see their loved ones for the first time in over four months.
One of the first visitors through the door was Margaret Whittington who came to see her 100-year-old mother Joan Stanhope at St John’s.
Mrs Whittington said: "Mum’s face was beaming as the staff bought her into the café and she was so surprised to see me.
"We shared a nice cup of tea and had a natter.
"Mum is looking very well and she had a good laugh with us.
"It was so great to be able to see her again”.
Nogi John, home manager at Ashwood, said: "We are extremely pleased to be able to open our doors again as families are as much a part of our home as our residents.
"It has been very emotional to see residents’ faces light up as they see family members after so long.
"We know how important it is for our residents to see loved ones and this is a real boost for everyone.”
Country Court Care, owners of the three care homes, had already put comprehensive guidelines for families in place before the Government's guidelines were announced on July 22.
As a result, care home staff and managers are asking families to comply with stringent health and safety measures to keep people safe.
They include a requirement for all visitors to wear a face masks for garden visits and full PPE for indoor visits.
"Every visitor is also required to pass through a thermal imaging machine to check their temperature on arrival.
Operations director Helen Richmond said: "ll Country Court Care and Nursing Homes remain COVID-19 free at this time and all of the measures we have implemented for these visits are designed to keep it that way.
"This means that visits will be different from before, but we are sure that people will understand why.
"These visits have been able to happen because of the hard work of all our homes to keep residents safe and it has been amazing to see how much it means to everyone."