Residents’ joy as rules relaxed at care homes

Whitley Bay resident Vera Elliott was able to welcome her nephew Robin into her room for the first time as care home restrictions were relaxed.

Until now, residents have had to meet family in pods or designated visitor areas, but thanks to a relaxation of restrictions Vera, who is registered blind, could have her home comforts about her as she entertained her nephew.

Vera said: “I have a son who lives in South London, and when I’m talking to him I can at least imagine where he is but Robin here has not been able to see where I live properly until now. It will make such a difference.

“It will make things much easier for me, much better.

“The more we can relate to our community and our families, the more we feel that we’re still part of the world.”

Vera’s nephew Robin said: “It’s about time really. It’s probably fair to say it’s been pushed and it’s taken far too long.

“One of the things that’s particularly difficult has been we have had politicians not behaving properly – with Barnard Castle visits to test your eyesight or people having parties when we’ve not been able to visit like this.”

He said he was concerned that the sacrifices made by ordinary people had not been matched elsewhere, but he added: “At least we can get on with stuff now.”

Home manager Dawn Esslemont added: “It’s lovely for the residents to have the restrictions lifted so they’re not just looking forward to seeing their three named visitors but can see all of their family and friends at their home again. Because this is their home and we’re always keen to highlight that.

“And for me it’s also about the residents being able to go out and about and come back without having had to do a lateral flow test every day. It’s such a boost for their wellbeing.”

However Dawn said it was key to remember Covid wasn’t over – and added: “It hasn’t gone away and the most important factor for me remains the safety of all of our residents. Obviously it’s been discussed in the media that we’ve no longer got any restrictions.

“But we’ve not had any official guidance. So we’re continuing with all of the screening that we carry out.”

She said it had been “incredibly tough” for the people living at Eothen, adding: “These residents are at a stage of life where they have often lots of friends – and they have probably lost touch with them over the last two years.

“It will be lovely for them to welcome visitors back to their home.

“It’s a great step in the right direction. But it’s up to me to keep our residents safe and we’ll be continuing to do what we have to to do that.”