The Healthcare Homes Group, which runs 45 care homes across East Anglia and the South of England has invested almost £1,000,000 in garden ‘visiting pods’ to help residents maintain contact with loved-ones during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The group, which provides a mix of residential and nursing care for more than 2,000 residents with a range of needs, began introducing the garden visiting rooms in July, providing a safe space for relatives to visit residents whilst Covid-19 continues to pose a risk across the country.
Having taken a tough decision to cease all but essential or compassionate exceptional visits prior to the national lockdown in March, the team has researched ways to keep residents connected with family members. The answer has been to create temporary garden structures, which are equipped with a Perspex screen to separate visitors from residents and an intercom to make communicating easy. The rooms are also equipped with heating when required, insulation and nurse call buttons.
Pods are now open in many of the group’s homes, with positive feedback received from residents and relatives alike. Many homes have involved residents in the planning or official opening of the new facilities. Some homes such as Blandford Grange in Dorset have encouraged residents to name their room, which they have called ‘the snug’, and informal opening ceremonies have been held, welcoming the family of a resident to join them in the special occasion.
David Smith, Group Director of Estates & Property Services said: “This was a very important investment for us. Covid-19 has posed challenges unlike anything we have seen before, and every effort has been put into ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our residents and staff.
“Strict health and safety measures are in place across our group which help us to reduce the risk of transmission into our homes, but the impact on wellbeing that social distancing and shielding can have is something we take extremely seriously. We needed a solution, and our garden visiting pods have provided just this.
“The feedback we’re receiving from the relatives and residents across our homes has been simply wonderful to hear. Being able to offer a warm, inviting, safe environment for residents to see their loved ones is fantastic and we hope they’ll make a real difference as we continue to navigate our way through this difficult time.”