We are delighted that we have been able to implement the first phase of opening our care homes to visitors, which has begun with visits held in the gardens and grounds of our homes. We know this period of lockdown has been particularly difficult for family and friends who have not been able to visit loved ones and we are so pleased to be able to open our homes in this safe and practical way.
Stuart Cross, Managing Director at Avante Care and Support, said, ‘It has been something quite special to open our homes again, and definitely worth the long wait. It is a reminder to everyone that care homes are not only safe places to be, but can also offer older people an environment where they can thrive and have a vibrant and fulfilling life.’
One of our care homes, Riverdale Court in Welling, opened a visitor’s centre in the grounds of the home to welcome families to visit their loved ones. A number of residents and staff were part of the official opening last week including Terry Broughton, Maintenance Technician, who built the visitor centre. Families can now book a visit to meet with their loved ones at Riverdale Court in a comfortable and safe environment; a big step forward for families who have patiently waited to be reunited with their loved ones since lockdown was introduced.
Other Avante homes are using their gardens and outside areas for families to visit safely, such as Puddingstone Grange in Plumstead where we have recently welcomed families back for planned garden visits. Many families have taken advantage of this and have been reunited with their loved ones.
One family member said, ‘It feels so long since we have been able to visit and although we cannot hug mum, we are delighted that the staff at Puddingstone Grange have worked so hard to make these visits safe and possible’.
Another relative shared how excited she was when she heard the garden visits had been arranged
and how she couldn’t sleep with anticipation in seeing her mother.
Bridge Haven, our care home in Bridge near Canterbury, is also making full use of the external under cover patio area for families to safely meet with loved ones.
Kim Drury, Home Manager at Bridge Haven, said, ‘We know with families beginning to visit again it will be an overwhelming time for them and their loved ones and we are working hard to ensure residents and family feel at ease and have an enjoyable and comfortable visit’.
As the country emerges from lockdown and we see further easing of the restrictions in our communities, we want to ensure our care homes remain a safe place for residents and staff. Every Avante Care & Support care home has a unique layout and access, and there has been an agreed visitors plan designed to suit each home to now be able to safely welcome back families to visit either in the gardens or through an undercover visitor area.
We continue to follow the government’s guidelines as well as best practice among our peer organisations such as the National Care Forum. That is why visits inside the care home will continue to be restricted to essential professional visitors or relatives of residents who are seriously ill. We know how much people want to get back to normal and have the flexibility to visit their loved ones when they wish to, but we cannot extend visiting beyond external areas until we have government guidance which says this is safe to do so.