Essex

Chigwell care home reunites families from behind screen

Winnie Mulgrew and Margaret Godfrey Image copyright Oakland Care
Image caption Mother and daughter Winnie Mulgrew and Margaret Godfrey are now allowed to see one another from either side of the screen

Residents and families can be reunited safely for the first time since the coronavirus lockdown after a care home installed a glass screen.

Lambwood Heights in Chigwell, Essex, closed to non-essential visitors in March and the only family contact has been via video and phone calls.

It has now installed the screen in a summerhouse.

Margaret Godfrey said it was a "joyful experience" being able to see her mother Winnie Mulgrew, 92.

"Phone calls are great, but it's just not the same as being able to see her," she said.

Image copyright Oakland Care
Image caption Margaret Godfrey said the reunion was a joyful experience - but she could not help but get a bit tearful too

The summerhouse was installed in Lambwood Heights' garden, with an intercom to allow family members to hear one another.

Residents and family enter from different sides of the building, and visitors have to have their temperature taken before they can go in to maintain the home's infection control procedures.

The summerhouse will also be cleaned and disinfected between each pre-booked half hour visit.

Home manager Sonia Kasese said the system had been "amazing for our residents' wellbeing, and for their families' too".

"We have kept them in touch via Skype calls and FaceTime, but it's not the same as seeing your loved one in front of you," she added.

Image copyright Oakland Care
Image caption Winnie Mulgrew was a dancer and performed in the 1940s at the Windmill Theatre in London - the venue inspired the Judi Dench film Mrs Henderson Presents

Mrs Mulgrew and her daughter were the first family to be reunited.

Mrs Godfrey said: "It was the most joyful experience - I'd missed Mum so much.

"But I did have to wipe my eyes a little bit.

"All I'm waiting for now is when we can have a hug."

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