COVID-19: Care home residents allowed to see family after rapid tests rolled out - 'it was very emotional'

·2-min read

A care home rolled out rapid testing so families could embrace their loved ones on Christmas Day.

Aspen Hill Village in Hunslet, south Leeds, ran successful trials of the lateral flow tests, which allow people to receive results to show if they have COVID-19 within 30 minutes.

Dozens of people, wearing personal protective equipment, were allowed to hug and chat to their elderly relatives during a two-hour visiting slot.

Michael McKimm was able to see his grandmother, Rose McKimm, for the first time since February.

He made the care home visit with his mother Mary Orme, who was also able to see Ms McKimm on Christmas Eve.

"It was fantastic, it pretty much made Christmas for me just to see her, it was great," he said.

"It was very emotional for my mum, she cried a lot."

Navjot Singh, director at Aspen Hill Village, said: "This year has been difficult for the whole country, but for those people living in care homes, or with loved ones in care homes, it has been even more so.

"For some of our residents, it's been over nine months since they've been able to hold hands, or have a hug, with their loved ones.

"That's why the lateral flow tests, which allow us to test visitors on the day to make sure they don't have the virus, are so exciting.

"It means that today, on Christmas Day, we have been able to reunite over 70 families for a much-needed hug, cup of tea and chat.

"It's brought a smile to everyone's faces and ends a very difficult year on a high.

"For our staff, who have tried their best to make life as normal as possible for the people they care for, it represents a bit of hope that our residents will have more normality in 2021."

Millions of people in the UK are having to spend Christmas Day away from their families this year after the emergence of a more transmissible variant of coronavirus meant the rules had to be tightened.

Those living in Tier 4 areas in England are not allowed to meet people outside their own household or support bubble.

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People living in Tier 1, 2 and 3 areas are allowed to form a "Christmas bubble" limited to three households on Christmas Day only.

The latest government figures show that a further 570 deaths - within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test - were recorded in England on Christmas Day.