There were smiles and laughter as a 79-year-old care home resident was reunited with her great-granddaughter for the first time since the pandemic began.
Pat Tinner last saw 18-month-old Mya shortly before moving into the Sunrise of Bagshot care home in March 2020, just weeks before a national lockdown was imposed.
More than a year later, as the latest restrictions were eased on Monday, Mrs Tinner, who has Parkinson’s disease, met the toddler again at the Surrey-based home.
Introducing herself as “great nanny Pat”, Mrs Tinner quickly bonded with Mya, who was just a baby when they last met around Christmas time 2019.
Anna Chioariu, general manager at the Sunrise of Bagshot, said: “This is the first time residents have been able to hold and play with their great-grandchildren.
“Knowing that for almost a year they have been isolating in the care home with very limited visits from relatives and friends, this is major for them in terms of their mental wellbeing.
“We have seen how isolation affects their wellbeing during the pandemic.”
Mrs Tinner said the latest lockdown had been a “bit traumatic”, but added she had been “looking forward” to seeing Mya.
Mrs Tinner’s granddaughter and Mya’s mother, Kimberley Skelton, 29, said: “It’s lovely to see her again. It’s really nice.
“I can’t believe it’s been that long. In normal time she would have built up more of a relationship with her and she would have seen lots more of Pat.”
The number of designated visitors to care homes increased from two to five per resident as restrictions eased on Monday.
Residents are also able to leave the home for a greater variety of activities without needing to self-isolate for 14 days on their return.
Residents can have up to five named visitors, with a maximum of two at any one time, not including very young children or essential caregivers.
They can also visit hospitals as outpatients, GPs, dentists and day centres as well as workplaces and educational settings without needing to self-isolate after.
Following any overnight stay, including an overnight hospital visit, residents are still required to isolate for 14 days. They are advised to take a Covid test before leaving the facility.
Adults who become a resident of a care home will also need to isolate from other residents for 14 days.
In all cases, if a resident has a designated essential caregiver, this person should be able to visit during the isolation period.
In addition, care homes where there has been an outbreak only need to close to visitors for 14 days rather than 28, as was previously the case.
An outbreak will be declared over 14 days after the last positive case and once all residents and staff have tested negative, assuming there are no variants of concern.
Updated Government guidance will be kept under review with a view to removing further restrictions as soon as possible, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.