Wylesfield in Powys has become one of the first in Wales to receive a new temporary 'visitor pod', thanks to funding from the Welsh Government.

97-year-old Rosina Mayer has lived there for almost a year and this week, along with her son Richard, became the first resident to experience the new pod, describing it as "super".

Her son Richard Mayer, said it made "a huge difference" to the "draughty, make-shift gazebo" they were used to meeting in.

The pod is designed to give care homes extra space to facilitate visits safely and comfortably. It's heated, with a perspex screen in between visitors, and families can book a slot online or over the phone.

The care home's Service Manager Lowri Owen said the pod would hopefully be able to "give everybody the boost they need" before Christmas. "It’s been a long hard slog and nobody could have imagined this but as a team here we’ve stuck together, we’ve got each other through it, so far so good and our residents are safe and well and happy. Now they’ll be able to see their families just in time for Christmas so that’s going to make a massive difference. It’ll give everybody the boost they need just before Christmas hopefully."

Last month the Welsh Government announced a £3 million pilot project to help care homes procure, install and lease out around a hundred pods.

The funding also 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.

It's hoped the pods can help families to visit loved-ones during the winter months; something Simon Kezic-Williams, Regional Operations Director for Shaw Healthcare, says is vital for everyone. He said, "This means we can manage visiting safely and effectively for relatives to be able to visit their loved ones and spend some quality time with them through let's face it what's been a really, really difficult time for people this year."

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Shaw Covid Compliant
Shaw Covid Compliant

Dear Relatives,

We would like to thank you for your ongoing support of all our care homes and hard-working staff throughout the past year. It has been an incredibly challenging year for everyone, and we recognise the impact that the pandemic has had on all those connected to our homes and within our local communities. We are now hopefully seeing a way back to normal and look forward to opening our doors fully in the coming months.

However, following the recent announcement by the government, we are pleased to advise that from Monday 12th April 2021 our care homes in England will be able to allow visits from 2 named visitors(subject to a negative Lateral Flow Test and PPE being worn). We will also be extending visiting into the weekends as long as it is booked in advance. Your care home will discuss with you the guidelines we need to follow for you to become a named visitor.

Furthermore, we are also delighted to announce that for the first-time visits can include a child or baby. Children under the age of 2 will not count towards the 2 named visitor quota. Clearly, visits involving children will need to be carefully managed and in agreement with the home manager. As per the guidance those over the age of 11 will need to wear PPE and be tested (with parental consent).

Another development in the new approach to visiting is the nomination of an ‘essential care giver’. The essential care giver role is intended as a way of supporting the relatively small proportion of our residents who need some element of care and support that could only ever be provided by someone with a unique personal relationship with the resident, perhaps formed over many years. It is likely that this person will already be part of the ongoing care plan for the resident. All this will be at the discretion of the manager and the care giver will be subject to the rigorous testing regime currently undertaken by our own staff. Please speak with your Home Manager for further details.

In summary from 12th April 2021 the new government guidelines for care home visits allow for;

1. 2 named visitors (see the guidance for help on how you could become a named visitor and what restrictions apply)

2. Children can also visit with those under the age of 2 not counted as part of the 2 named visitor quota (see the guidance for help and what restrictions apply)

3. A person can apply for essential carer status but this will need to assessed and agreed by the Home Manager and is subject to rigorous testing.

The Government guidance on care home visiting in England can be found HERE.