Families allowed to visit loved ones in rest-homes

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JACK.CONROY@nullcluthaleader.co.nz

Family members who missed being able to visit rest-home residents during the lockdown can do so under Alert Level 2.

But there were some caveats, Presbyterian Support Otago communications adviser Sally Knox said.

“At the moment we’re still operating restricted access,” Mrs Knox said.

“Even though it’s low risk we still need to be careful as obviously the elderly are at higher risk if they get it.”

PSO works with rest-homes around the region, including Balclutha’s Holmdene Home for the Aged.

The key was to control the flow of people coming into the homes for visits, and limiting the time they spent inside the building, she said.

“One visitor at a time, and for a maximum of 30 minutes.

“The measures are put in place to make sure we don’t have a lot of people on site at the same time.”

She said there was a risk that people coming to visit their elderly relatives had been moving around outside of their bubbles under Level 2, and could have been exposed to Covid-19.

“There is hand hygiene and a mask must be worn.”

For the safety and convenience of everyone involved, the best idea was for visitors to book their appointment in advance and give ample time for staff to facilitate the visit with their family.

Mrs Knox said residents at Holmdene and other facilities were co›operative and understanding during the lockdown, but were eager to see their loved ones.

“Overwhelmingly, residents have understood. It’s hard, but they appreciate what needs to be done and are grateful for being able to feel safe.
Holmdene resident Eric Bisset said their lives had not changed drastically because they ‘‘didn’t get out all that much’’.

‘‘But some of us have mobile scooters, and we’ve been unable to use them around the neighbourhood,’’ Mr Bisset said.

However, there were plenty of activities to keep them entertained, such as housie, quiz nights, hallway tennis and jigsaws.

But he was looking forward to the enforced isolation coming to an end.

‘‘We do miss our relatives.’’

Fellow resident Natalie Hill said she felt grateful to the staff and community members who had done their part to keep everyone safe.

‘‘Young people and old people would walk past with their dogs and always wave,’’ Mrs Hill said.

‘‘And we have to thank the staff, who made so many sacrifices for us. Many of them travelled between here and a home where they lived alone, to prevent us being exposed.’’