Sunday, 25 Oct 2020

Care home builds sealed Covid-safe lodge so pensioners can meet their loved ones

A specially-designed lodge with an airtight screen has opened to residents of a care home so they can spend time with loved ones amid coronavirus restrictions.

The lodge at Worthington Lake Care Home in Wigan is separated by an airtight pane of protective glass enabling people on either side to chat without breathing the same air.

Families and residents enter through separate doors into each section of the lodge, named the Rawsthrone Retreat, which is furnished like a living room.

In most parts of the country families can pay socially-distanced visits to care home residents if all are wearing PPE, but in Greater Manchester, which is now under tier 2 restrictions, the lodge’s opening could not be better timed.

In areas under the ‘high’ Covid alert level people from different households cannot mix indoors, but the Worthington Lake lodge counts as two separate rooms.

Joan Kershaw, 88, and her daughter Vivien Stevenson were pictured in the lodge deep in conversation with a cup of tea.

Vivien, whose mum is living with dementia, said: ‘I think the lodge is a fantastic idea which works really well.

‘The important thing is that it means I can see my mum which, under present restrictions, I wouldn’t be able to otherwise.

‘It was a bit odd at first because of the screen but I got used to it in no time and so did my mum. There is no comparison to seeing her face to face.

The Rawsthrone Retreat may survive a move to tier 3 restrictions, as Boris Johnson was expected to announce for Greater Manchester on Friday.

People who live within a ‘very high alert’ region are allowed to travel within it, and loved ones could in principle go to the lodge provided they are from the same household and meet the care home’s limit of three visitors at a time.

The 200-square-foot lodge was custom built at a cost of £100,000 and contains heating, air conditioning and a high-tech sanitising machine.

As soon as its occupants leave, staff can press a button causing the machine to spray the room from top to bottom with a special disinfectant, making it safe for the next group.

Families must book online to receive a slot, which must currently be restricted to 30 minutes due to demand.

Vivien added: ‘I hope other care companies see this and get the same idea.

‘As the pandemic goes on they are going to have to think of ways to facilitate visits between residents and their families. This is a great way to do it.’

Worthington Lake’s manager, Kim Jones, 57, said: ‘The lockdown was incredibly difficult for our residents and the mental health of some was really affected by the isolation from their families.

‘The idea to build a room safe for visits came from our managing director, we discussed it and all agreed that it would be a brilliant thing to do.

‘It’s worked out just as we had hoped, giving our residents that vital interaction with their loved ones which they desperately need.

‘I can’t overstate the importance of them seeing their family, it means everything.’

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