Care home residents embrace loved ones in Christmas Day visits

25 December 2020, 12:46 | Updated: 25 December 2020, 13:48

Chris Mills embraces his mother Carol Roberts during a visit at Aspen Hill Village care home
Chris Mills embraces his mother Carol Roberts during a visit at Aspen Hill Village care home. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Dozens of residents at a care home in Leeds were free to embrace family members and friends on Christmas Day thanks to a rapid coronavirus test trial.

The elderly residents at Aspen Hill Village in Hunslet, south Leeds, could finally enjoy hugs and kisses with their loved ones who had tested negative for Covid-19 in the rapid results trial.

More than 70 close contact family visits were allowed on Friday morning following the successful trials of lateral flow testing which produced results in less than 30 minutes.

Dressed in personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gowns, gloves and masks, family members hugged and chatted with their relatives during the two-hour visiting window.

Some were pictured bringing gifts and flowers after months of being separated.

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Diane Schofield embraces her friend Mary Kirby, who she affectionately calls Auntie Mary
Diane Schofield embraces her friend Mary Kirby, who she affectionately calls Auntie Mary. Picture: PA
Activities coordinator Claire Paver (centre) walks with two visitors to the care home
Activities coordinator Claire Paver (centre) walks with two visitors to the care home. Picture: PA
A rapid results trial helped Christmas Day visits go ahead in the Leeds care home
A rapid results trial helped Christmas Day visits go ahead in the Leeds care home. Picture: PA

Activities coordinator Claire Paver brought festive joy to residents and visitors by dressing up in a Santa Claus outfit and hat.

One elderly resident awaited the arrival of her loved ones in a reindeer headband.

Navjot Singh, director at Aspen Hill Village, said: "This year has been difficult for the whole country, but for those people living in care homes, or with loved ones in care homes, it has been even more so.

"For some of our residents, it's been over nine months since they've been able to hold hands, or have a hug, with their loved ones.

"That's why the lateral flow tests, which allow us to test visitors on the day to make sure they don't have the virus, are so exciting.

"It means that today, on Christmas Day, we have been able to reunite over 70 families for a much-needed hug, cup of tea and chat.

"It's brought a smile to everyone's faces and ends a very difficult year on a high.

"For our staff, who have tried their best to make life as normal as possible for the people they care for, it represents a bit of hope that our residents will have more normality in 2021."

Michael McKimm was able to see his grandmother, Rose McKimm, for the first time since February after being tested for the second time having contracted Covid in September.

He made the care home visit with his mother Mary Orme, who was also able to see Ms McKimm on Christmas Eve.

"It was fantastic, it pretty much made Christmas for me just to see her, it was great," he said, adding, "it was very emotional for my mum, she cried a lot."

Lateral flow tests were rolled out to care homes in England to help close contact visits go ahead and to combat isolation issues among residents.

On Wednesday, the Department of Health and Social Care announced care home staff in England will receive two rapid result tests a week in addition to regular testing to help keep the new Covid variant at bay.

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