In February 2020, relatives and loved ones left our care homes after visiting the people they held most dear: mother, father, husband, wife, grandparent. They hugged, they smiled and said, ‘see you soon’.
No one could have predicted than in many cases, this would have been the last hug they received in nearly 12 months. A year. A year without that comforting touch of your nearest and dearest. No words can describe the need and desire to hold that person. If anyone of us knew that it would be the last hug in a year, I’m sure you would have held your loved one that little bit tighter for a little bit longer.
The journey over this last 12 months has been unbelievable, with more ups, downs and emotional turmoil than ever before. Then on Wednesday 24th February 2021, the incredible news came that indoor visiting would commence in care homes within the week, supporting residents and loved ones to reunite once again.
The relaxed guidance from the Scottish Government had finally made it possible for this to happen and it is guidance that Renaissance Care has welcomed and embraced.
The impact of human touch, seeing and speaking openly with your loved one is vitally important to the emotional wellbeing of both the resident and the relative. This time, visits will be unsupervised, contact is allowed, sitting in a warm and welcoming personal environment is once again encouraged – all these things that seem so natural, but for obvious reasons not possible, are now being reintroduced.
The week ahead is predicted to be an emotional one. Tears of joy, of relief, of comfort and most of all happiness will no doubt line the faces of each individual that enters a care home to be reunited. These emotions will 100 per cent be embodied in a workforce that has given their everything to protect a generation deemed vulnerable to the virus. They have faced fear and sadness in equal qualities and this next stage will bring both apprehension and delight.
The social care workforce has not only been carers and nurses throughout this pandemic, they have acted as family. They have been that comforting factor when things became incredibly challenging. Now, with the reintroduction of relatives, there appears to be some light at the end of the tunnel – this emotion and relief will be unprecedented.
Many protective factors are in place to ensure visits are as safe as possible with procedures in place to reduce the risk of the virus transmitting to the homes. Vaccines, testing, PPE, enhanced cleaning to name just a few. A small price to pay for the joy of human contact. Never before has a hug meant so much: ‘Sometimes all you need is a hug from the right person and all your stress will melt away.’
Wednesday 3rd March 2021, the day we reopen our homes, will be a date we’ve longed for and a date we remember for years to come.