Elderly care home residents are given lab-style ‘hugging mitts’ to touch loved ones 


Visitors are forced to touch their elderly care home relatives through Covid-secure ‘hugging mitts’ as the UK enters its second lockdown.

Visitors at a Sheffield care home have to place their arms through the over-sized black gloves – more commonly seen in research labs – to hold hands with their loved ones on the other side of a glass screen.

The affect of the UK’s second lockdown on pensioners’ mental health has become a topic of great concern – after the ban on visitors earlier this year left many isolated and lonely.

In a bid to tackle the issue, staff at Hallamshire Care Home created a cold weather-friendly ‘visiting nook’.  

Elderly people in a Sheffield care home have been provided with lab-style hugging sleeves so they can embrace their loved ones during the UK’s second lockdown. Pictured: 94-year-old resident Eve using the ‘visiting nook’

Pictures taken inside Hallamshire Care Home show residents - many of whom are in their 90s - smiling as they greet their visitors. Pictured: Mary, 98, greeting a loved one

Pictures taken inside Hallamshire Care Home show residents – many of whom are in their 90s – smiling as they greet their visitors. Pictured: Mary, 98, greeting a loved one

The gloves are similar to those commonly seen at research labs - such as in this clinical virology laboratory in Tunisia

The gloves are similar to those commonly seen at research labs – such as in this clinical virology laboratory in Tunisia

Care home manager Scott Melville said their ‘hugging mits’ have enabled residents to touch family members for the first time in months, transforming visits into ‘special events’.

The 44-year-old said the space, which was opened last Friday, has been hailed a ‘fantastic idea’ as the absence of physical contact is something everybody’s ‘really been missing’.

Pictures taken inside the home show residents – many of whom are in their 90s – smiling as they greet their visitors.

Mr Melville – who’s been the manager for 13 years and lives in Sheffield – said: ‘It’s been so well received by all the residents and their families – they can actually touch again and hold hands.

Staff at Hallamshire Care Home created a cold weather-friendly 'visiting nook'. Pictured: Mary, 98, being greeted by a loved one

Staff at Hallamshire Care Home created a cold weather-friendly ‘visiting nook’. Pictured: Mary, 98, being greeted by a loved one

Care home manager Scott Melville said their 'hugging mits' have enabled residents to touch family members for the first time in months, transforming visits into 'special events'. Pictured: Valeria, 84, using the 'nook'

Care home manager Scott Melville said their ‘hugging mits’ have enabled residents to touch family members for the first time in months, transforming visits into ‘special events’. Pictured: Valeria, 84, using the ‘nook’

Visitors at a Sheffield care home have to place their arms through the over-sized black gloves (pictured) - more commonly seen in research labs - to hold hands with their loved ones on the other side of a glass screen

Visitors at a Sheffield care home have to place their arms through the over-sized black gloves (pictured) – more commonly seen in research labs – to hold hands with their loved ones on the other side of a glass screen

‘It’s going beyond touching a window or through plastic, they’re actually able to sit and safely hold hands with loved ones that they haven’t been able to for six, seven, eight or nine months.

‘Contact is the most important thing, especially with loved ones – it’s what’s been really missing throughout care homes in recent months.

‘As much as our residents have different forms of dementia, they can still recognise or have some emotional reaction to touch, a cuddle or a handhold.

‘When that comes from someone that they may not initially recognise, but the emotion is still inside them, you can see the look on their faces that it means something.’

The space, which was opened last Friday, has been hailed a 'fantastic idea' as the absence of physical contact is something everybody's 'really been missing'. Pictured: 84-year-old Valerie holding hands with a loved one

The space, which was opened last Friday, has been hailed a ‘fantastic idea’ as the absence of physical contact is something everybody’s ‘really been missing’. Pictured: 84-year-old Valerie holding hands with a loved one

Visitors wear disposable gloves inside their mitts (pictured), and 30 minutes or more is allowed in between each slot to thoroughly steam sanitise the 'nook' ahead of the next visitor

Visitors wear disposable gloves inside their mitts (pictured), and 30 minutes or more is allowed in between each slot to thoroughly steam sanitise the ‘nook’ ahead of the next visitor

Hallamshire Care Home (pictured) initially erected Covid-secure visiting gazebos where residents and visitors were separated by a window panel, but built their 'nook' to enable visits to continue throughout the winter months

Hallamshire Care Home (pictured) initially erected Covid-secure visiting gazebos where residents and visitors were separated by a window panel, but built their ‘nook’ to enable visits to continue throughout the winter months

Hallamshire Care Home initially erected Covid-secure visiting gazebos where residents and visitors were separated by a window panel, but built their ‘nook’ to enable visits to continue throughout the winter months.

Visitors wear disposable gloves inside their mitts, and 30 minutes or more is allowed in between each slot to thoroughly steam sanitise the ‘nook’ ahead of the next visitor.

Mr Melville said: ‘The idea for the gloves came from a relative because in the gazebos she said ‘it was nice, you could feel the warmth of their hands through the plastic’.

‘I was sitting at home that night thinking we’re building this nook, let’s incorporate an actual ability to hold hands.

‘They’ve been able to sit and meet through the gazebo, but actually being able to physically hold hands with your mother, wife or husband is something they’ve not been able to do for so long.

‘That’s the bit that makes a huge difference, which takes it from a visit to an actual special event.’ 

Care home visits must be OUTSIDE or through a window during England’s second coronavirus lockdown, Government says

Care home visits must take place outside or through a window or screen during England’s second coronavirus lockdown, the Government said on Wednesday.

‘Ad hoc’ in-person visits will not be allowed but homes will still be able to find alternative ways for relatives to meet up with residents.

During the first wave in the spring, visits had to be banned completely because the virus was ravaging the care sector and officials feared they could not be safely organised.

Drive-through visits at care homes were permitted at some locations for part of the first lockdown (pictured: A visit taking place at a home in Banbury, Oxfordshire)

Drive-through visits at care homes were permitted at some locations for part of the first lockdown (pictured: A visit taking place at a home in Banbury, Oxfordshire)

Care organisations and Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour Party, have campaigned for visits to continue to be allowed during the second lockdown to avoid leaving residents isolated.

In its guidance, issued less than 12 hours before new lockdown measures are introduced, the Department of Health suggested that homes could set up designated visitor ‘pods’ with screens, host visits through windows at a distance, or allow one-on-one meetings outdoors. 

Failing that, it said, they should try to encourage more virtual visits.

But critics said the rules ‘miss the point’ and would not work well for people with dementia, who make up a majority of care home residents and of whom many would not understand or cope with the rules.

Outdoor visits will be out of the question for most as the autumn weather turns, with rain and plummeting temperatures now the norm across the country.

Martin Green, chair of Care England, said it was disappointing that a better policy had not been devised during the months since the first lockdown.

He said: ‘We are really upset that a proper policy has not been published in time when a second lockdown was always on the cards.’ 

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