Coronavirus: Husband and wife of 48 years reunited at care home after restrictions are eased
A Shropshire woman has spoken of her joy following an emotional reunion with her husband – after restrictions on indoor visits at care homes were lifted.
Dianne Ireland had been unable have physical contact with her husband, Robert Ireland, since March 2020, due to the COVID-19-secure measures put in place by the home to keep residents and staff safe.
Since then Dianne and her family have been keeping in contact with Robert, who has dementia, via video calls or via the specially-built pod at the Ottley House Care Home in Shrewsbury.
However, with restrictions on indoor visiting being eased, Dianne was given the chance to reunite with her husband of 48-years and hold hands for the first time in a year.
“It was an emotional day for us both.
“The last 12 months have been so incredibly difficult for us all – because we have just been able to see him via video calls. The staff at the home have been incredible but I feel like we have both missed out on so much over the past year.
“I’ve missed holding his hand and bringing him little treats. I had to take a COVID-19 test before being allowed to visit; waiting for that result was the longest half-an-hour of my life.”
“I cried – I was so overcome with emotion. I was able to hold his hand and talk with him face-to-face.”
On March 8 2021, the rules on care home visits changed as part of the Government’s roadmap out of the third Lockdown. Care home residents can now nominate one person for regular visits.
Every time the nominated person visits, they should take a Lateral Flow Test organised by the care home.
Visitors will need to wait for the result before seeing the resident, which takes up to 30 minutes.
If they test positive for COVID-19, they should return home and self-isolate.
Under the Government guidance, visitors and residents are advised to keep physical contact to a minimum, but hand holding is allowed.
Robert has dementia which had made remote calls or pod visits especially difficult, and Dianne said the care home staff had really stepped in to fill the gap left by her absence.
“I can’t praise the staff at Ottley House enough. They have really looked after Robert and provided me and the rest of the family with constant contact throughout the pandemic. Lockdown was hard, but the regular video calls really did save me.
“Not being able to have that physical contact with Robert has been so hard. I can’t express how good it felt to finally hold his hand again.
“I told Robert I loved him. The dementia has affected Robert’s speech, but I told him I know he loves me too.”