“Having the pod will make us part of the community again” – first ‘visiting pods’ delivered to Welsh care homes
The first ‘visiting pods’ providing extra visiting space in care homes have been delivered this week.
Wylesfield, a residential care home in Llandrindod Wells operated by Shaw Healthcare, was one of the first to receive a pod. The purpose-built two storey home provides accommodation for 27 people, including people living with dementia and respite care.
Rosina Mayer, 97, has lived in the area for more than 40 years and has two sons, six grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren. Although part of her family now lives in Spain, one of her sons, Richard, still lives in Llandrindod Wells.
"Having the pod will make us part of the community again, instead of feeling like we’re being shut away,” she said.
"It will be different to waving through the window and it will be certainly be warmer than meeting up in the garden. I do feel lucky to be here at Wylesfield, but it feels like we’ve been living a different life for most of the year and everyone is looking forward to getting back to normal."
The £3m pilot, which covers the procurement, installation and lease of up to 100 visiting pods, will see almost 80 units being installed and ready to use before Christmas. The visiting pod at Wylesfield has been supplied and installed by Portakabin.
The funding includes £1m for plans to support providers who have made their own arrangements on a similar, rental basis for a period of up to six months.
Care homes across Wales have been working hard to arrange indoor visits, especially around the festive season, and help people maintain contact with their families and friends where routine visits have not been possible.
Expanding capacity within care homes will help to support risk-assessed visiting during the winter months as some care providers have found it difficult to support socially-distanced visits due to a lack of visiting space.
Coronavirus levels in Wales are currently high and the safety of people living in care homes is paramount. Decisions about visiting will be made in light of the current coronavirus situation, the alert level and in discussion with the home.
The first pilot to test the roll-out of vaccinations to care homes started yesterday [Wednesday] in Mold, Flintshire – just over a week after the first vaccines were administered to health, social care and care home staff at special centres across Wales.
Deputy Minister for Health and Social Care, Julie Morgan, said:
"This year has been one of the most difficult all of us have experienced in Wales, and the effects of coronavirus have been felt throughout our health and social care sectors.
"The arrival of these care home visiting pods will help some of our most vulnerable people safely spend valuable time with family and friends.
"Together with the start of the vaccine roll-out to care home residents, we are seeing a glimmer of light at the end of what has been a long tunnel. I want to thank our social care staff for the fantastic lengths they have gone to keep their residents safe."
Lowri Owen, manager of Wylesfield, said:
"Our residents and their families have been so excited since hearing we were going to be having a visiting pod at Wylesfield. Not being able to meet in person with their loved ones has been one of the hardest things for lots of our residents during the pandemic, so being able to offer a safe way to allow people to do that is just fantastic.
"Our team has been doing everything they can to keep our communities safe, while also trying to ensure families can stay in touch. The video calls have been brilliant, but being able to have face-to-face contact between residents and families is so important to the wellbeing of our residents, and something I know their families will be really grateful for."
Robert Snook, director and general manager of Portakabin said:
"Throughout the pandemic, we have worked closely with the NHS and governments across the UK to provide a variety of buildings and continue to offer solutions when and where they are needed most.
"With the buildings we have designed for the Welsh Government, we hope to allow a glimpse of normality into the lives of many by enabling families and loved ones to come together safely in the care home environment. Our team has worked tirelessly to deliver 30 separate facilities across Wales and we are delighted with the results.
"Portakabin regularly works with our governments and the NHS and we’re proud to be able to support our nation’s healthcare system at this incredibly challenging time."
An updated Care Homes Action Plan, has been published today [Thursday]. Focusing on six key areas – infection prevention and control; PPE; general and clinical support for care homes; residents’ well-being; social care workers’ well-being and financial sustainability – it is a key part of the Welsh Government’s winter protection plan.