Care operator enables face-to-face meetings for residents and loved ones


Care home group, Oakland Care, is bringing residents and families ‘face-to-face’ for the first time since visits were restricted for relatives due to the coronavirus lockdown.


The group, which operates four homes in the south east of England, is introducing summer houses into the homes’ gardens which will allow residents to meet loved ones in safety.  Clear screens will be installed in the summer houses so both parties will be able to see and talk to each other.


Residents will enter from one side while up to two family members from the same household will be shown into the other side via the garden.  Half-hour visits will be booked via an online appointment system and the summer houses will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between each visit.


None of its four homes have had a single case of COVID-19 and Oakland Care’s Chief Executive Officer, Joanne Balmer stated:


“We are, so far, free of coronavirus due to the measures we brought in very early on such a as closing our doors to visitors.  However, we recognise that residents and families would dearly love to be able to see each other.  We have been keeping people in touch via video calls but it’s not the same as being in the same space together.  This is why we came up with the idea of the summer houses.”


Oakland Care’s homes – Lambwood Heights in Chigwell, Woodland Grove in Loughton, Hastings Court in Hastings and Beechwood Grove in Eastbourne – offer personalised residential, nursing, memory and respite care in five-star surroundings.


Ronald and Pat, who live at Lambwood Heights, are looking forward to seeing their family who haven’t been able to visit them since early March.


“It’s so positive!” said Ron.  “This is such a brilliant idea; I can’t wait to see my family and to use the new summer house.  Even though it will be difficult not to hug them, just to be able to talk and have them close will be absolutely wonderful!”


The group carried out a comprehensive risk assessment of all its properties before the lockdown was introduced.  It brought in a raft of measures to keep coronavirus out of the homes including closing the doors to visitors, purchasing significant stocks of PPE and cleaning products at the earliest point, closing staff rooms, co-horting groups of staff to specific areas of the homes, additional cleaning and extra hand-washing facilities.


Lambwood Heights, which the group opened in February, is also offering a unique ‘Senior Shielding’ package.  This gives those who may be without their usual domestic support or who might be struggling with shopping or managing their home, a short stay in a separate part of the home which is COVID safe.


“We continue to exceed government guidelines to keep our residents and our staff safe,” added Joanne.  “We know this is a worrying time for everybody and we want to offer support in any way we can.  Families should feel confident to move a relative in with us and be assured that they will be safe and receive the care that they need.  Now that they will also be able to ‘see’ them, this will benefit everyone’s wellbeing.”


The homes will take delivery of the summer houses next week and should be welcoming their first visitors shortly after.


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