Visitors pod at Ty Hendy safely reunites families during the global pandemic
Ensuring the individual’s we support maintain regular contact with their loved ones, including visits where possible, has been a top priority for our services throughout the COVID pandemic as we understand the vital role this connection plays to the ongoing health and wellbeing of the people we support and their families.
At Ty Hendy, an innovative residential service that supports individuals with learning disabilities, autism and complex needs across three unique settings in Carmarthenshire Wales; one of the ways the team have been able to do this is with the introduction of a visitors pod at the service.
In December 2020, as part of their Care Home Action Plan, the Welsh government announced that temporary visiting pods were to be installed at care homes across Wales to allow people to safely spend valuable time with their friends and family. Providers were contacted directly regarding their interest in having a visitors pod onsite to help support families to visit people where visiting had been restricted.
Lorraine Jackson, Operations Manager for Wales, applied through the scheme to have a visitors pod installed at Ty Hendy and was delighted to learn that the application had been successful in the second phase of the roll out.
Once all the necessary paperwork and checks were complete, the pod was delivered to the service and installed in compliance with social distancing measures.
Lorraine explains, “Having regular contact with their loved ones is so important to the wellbeing of the people we support at Ty Hendy. Before the pod was installed, we had been supporting individuals to have regular contact via phone calls or by organising socially distanced visits in the garden, however in the colder, winter months, outside visits are more of a challenge.”
“In December, the service was in a 28-day lockdown which meant the people we support there were unable to visit their families for Christmas, which was very difficult for everyone.”
“The visitor’s pod was installed during the lockdown and as soon as it was lifted, the pod was used to enable a supported individual to have a safe visit from her family, which was fantastic. It has been a real joy for the team to see supported individuals safely reunited with their families after this period apart.”
“The visitor’s pod is made of fibre-glass and has two separate entrances with a glass screen partition between the visitors and the supported individuals, so it is very safe. The pod has a power source so it is lovely and warm and there is an intercom which enables people to have conversations inside the pod,” adds Lorraine.
Supported individual, Ellie and her family were the first people to use the visitor’s pod as the service. Ellie says, “Before the visitor’s pod, I would stay in touch with my mum by phone. It felt exciting and amazing to see my family using the visitor’s pod. I was the first person to test it. It was nice and warm and toasty. I could turn the volume up and speak to my parents. The best bit about the visit was getting to open my Christmas presents!”
Ellie’s mum was also very positive about the experience and said: “When I heard that Ty Hendy was getting a visitor’s pod, it felt great. We had been so upset that we couldn’t see Ellie over Christmas due to the service being in lock down, so to be able to have the opportunity for an in-person visit, made up for that disappointment and gave us all such a positive lift. It really made a huge difference.”
“The service was brilliant at supporting our visit. From ensuring it was the first possible date from after Ellie was out of isolation, post-Christmas, to helping Ellie get ready for the visit and managing her emotions, anxieties, and excitement. The team were also so friendly, as always, on our arrival and departure.”
“We had a socially distanced visit with Ellie in June, after not seeing our beautiful girl for 16 weeks which was heart breaking. At the visit, we sat in separate cars with the windows open, getting soaked. It wasn’t comfortable at all but were so desperate to see each other that we didn’t care.”
“Ellie also visited us in August and again in October when we took her to Centre Parcs. Other than this, we have been maintaining contact via calls, texts and Facetime.”
“The visitors pod itself was brilliant. It really made such a difference from our previous rain-soaked visit. It was warm and allowed three of us to visit with Ellie comfortably. The sound system meant we were able to hear each other really well and it was so nice to be so close to our gorgeous girl, and spend quality time with her, even if we couldn’t hug. It lifted us all so much.”
“The other positive for us is that in the event that we are unable to bring Ellie home to us for a visit, having the visitor’s pod will ensure we can maintain a face to face relationship and see each other in a safe environment.”
“This is so positive for us all, especially in terms of our mental health which has been negatively impacted by the enforced separation that COVID brings.”