Care home visiting pod opens

As care homes make preparations to restart visits as soon as possible, one Bridgend County Borough Council-run residential facility has been able to welcome families thanks to a temporary visiting pod.

Last year, Welsh Government announced that it would install 100 units across the country to better facilitate visits during the colder months.

Now that alert level four coronavirus restrictions have started to ease, visits to the pod at the council-run Ty Cwm Ogwr in Pant-yr-awel, Ogmore Vale, began this week.

Relatives are allocated a one-hour slot and are tested upon arrival with results returned within 20-30 minutes. If the result is negative, they enter the pod on one side and the care home resident on the other with a screen partition in between. The pod is sanitised thoroughly after each visit.

Ty Cwm Ogwr’s manager Diana Pulla said: “We’ve had several families visit already and it’s been a bit emotional with lots of happy tears.

“The pod was installed before Christmas but due to the restrictions, we’ve only just been able to start using it, and it’s brought a lot of positivity for residents and staff.

“It has proved very popular with lots of slots being booked up and we look forward to welcoming more families back over the coming weeks.”

Cllr Nicole Burnett, Cabinet Member for Social Services and Early Help, said: “The past few months have been extremely difficult for people living in care homes and their loved ones so it’s wonderful to see visits beginning to restart.

“Following the announcement by Welsh Government on Friday that visits can resume with single designated visitors, staff at council-run residential care homes are carrying out checks and undertaking risk assessments to allow that to happen as soon as possible.

“Each individual home will need to determine when it is safe for visits to restart and the council is sharing the updated guidance with other commissioned care home providers. We are doing all we can to ensure that contact with relatives and friends can resume as safely as possible.”

Residents are advised to contact the relevant home to find out what arrangements are in place before making a visit.