In response to the encroaching winter weather, Barchester Healthcare has devised and built new visiting suites to keep relatives and residents connected.

The majority of their homes are due to get a covid secure visiting suite by the end of November. This means residents will able to spend time with their loved ones safely this winter.

Following brainstorms with local care and building teams, Barchester Healthcare has run a successful pilot. It is now rolling out these visiting suites as the safest and most practical visitation solution during the upcoming months; where outdoor visits will be hampered by the weather.

Covid secure visiting

Barchester CEO, Pete Calveley, said: “The current pandemic has raised many questions in regards to family and friends visiting residents, and how care homes can balance the needs of infection control with the safety of residents, patients and staff. We have been looking closely at this and exploring many routes to help solve this problem. Careful planning, trials and preparation, along with a large investment has enabled us to adapt existing indoor rooms at homes where this is possible, and for those where it isn’t we are putting safe COVID secure indoor visiting suites in the gardens or outdoor space. We are confident these COVID-secure spaces are the most practical and comfortable solution for the winter months.”

The suites

The visiting suites are similar to a living room type space, complete with soft furnishings, lampshades, cushions, and internal room heating. They provide both a welcoming and warm space where residents can spend time with their loved ones. The room has an intercom system fitted so residents can clearly communicate, whilst being able to see their friends and family through a Perspex glass divider fitted for safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The visiting suites have been built as spaces that are hygienic and sealed. Visitors to these rooms may only access via the external entrance in the outdoor area that does not require entry to the home. Infection control protocols and safe social distancing are in place for every visit, including a hand sanitizer station. After each visit, cleaning will of course be carried out.

Keeping families connected

Jackie Winter, whose mum is a resident at Lynde House care home, said:

“My family and I have been very worried that we wouldn’t be able to see Mum over the colder months so we were absolutely delighted to find mum (and we) were warm and inside. A wonderful surprise! Thank you so much. It means so much to mum and the other residents and relatives that meetings are real. It is so hard that the situation is as it is but you have really done the best you can. All looked so professional too.

“Mum is approaching her 90th birthday so we are hopeful we will be able to have a mini celebration after all.”

After officially opening the visiting room at Melbourn Springs care home near Royston, Iris Freeman a resident at the home said: “Goodness, isn’t this clever! We really are very lucky to have this special room to see our family and everything has been thought of. It really is excellent!”

Making visiting easier

For ease of visiting, Barchester have created an online visitor booking system for relatives to use. This is currently available in 42 Barchester homes and will be in place for all homes in early December. Visitation will remain subject to government guidance and local health board advice.

Barchester continue to welcome new residents into their homes to ensure care and support is available to those in need.