Coronavirus: Care home creates ‘drive-through’ visit

Drive-through visits meant families were reunited with their loved ones at Sefton Hall.

Southern Healthcare’s Dawlish care home copied the concept of drive-through restaurants to reunite loved ones during the coronavirus crisis.

Through careful planning – including the use of PPE, time slots and separate stations – families were, for one day, able to see residents from the safety of their cars after eight weeks apart.

Simon Rains usually visits his mother, Marjorie, twice a week. He was overjoyed to see her waving, smiling, and laughing from just a few metres away. He explained: “I was slightly fearful I’d never see my mum again. I mean she’s ninety-eight now. My worry was – because of her memory problems – that if we lost contact how, when it’s all over, whether she’d remember us at all. But her reaction was just lovely with her smiling and her laughing.”   

During lockdown, regular visitors were not allowed to come to the care home (in line with Government regulations). Instead, staff relied on technology to keep families in touch. The drive-through concept meant families could see their loved ones again, in person.

Care home manager Gabriela Ogreanu said: “I think it meant everything to them today. I think I’ve seen people crying, I’ve seen people smiling.” She said the team worked hard to facilitate the meetings, carrying out risk assessments and ensuring they adhered to Government coronavirus regulations. Gabriela added: “I think it was really beneficial for the residents – they needed that, everybody needed that.” 

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, about three-quarters of care home residents have dementia. The coronavirus had a huge impact on care home staff, residents, and their families.

Care home staff and visitors shared footage of the drive through visits with the BBC (with the permission of residents and families). Watch the article here. Produced by Harriet Bradshaw or read the news articles from The Sun, Health Watch Plymouth and Devon Live.