Yesterday was an emotional day at Temple Grove Care home, near Uckfield, when ‘rapid’ Covid-19 tests were offered to visitors for the first time.
Those testing negative for the highly infectious disease were able to see their loved ones in their own rooms and give them a hug.
Nine people had booked in advance to take Lateral Flow Tests as Temple Grove, at Herons Ghyll, became the first care home in the area to gain access to them.
Each visitor registered for a test, conducted it themselves, and if clear of the virus, donned PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to be allowed in.
There had been socially-distanced garden visits during the summer, and in a lounge too as the weather turned colder, but negative Lateral Flow Tests open the doors to closer contact in residents’ own rooms once more.
Care home manager Alison Barnes said the test was a game-changer. It would revolutionise life in the home for residents, their relatives, and staff, and so yesterday became an emotional day for all.
She added: “We have been trialling the tests for the past week, including on one person outside the home who we knew had the Coronavirus. Within minutes of that test being done it registered as positive.”
It takes a full 30 minutes from swabs being taken in the throat and nose for definitive results to come through.
The first visitor said the test was unpleasant but it seemed churlish to say that when all 110 members of staff at Temple Grove have been testing themselves twice a week for months to ensure residents and each other were protected from the virus.
The visitor, who didn’t want to be named, said: “I was worried when I handed it in that I hadn’t done the test correctly. There seemed to be so many things to get right, from not touching lips, or tongue, to swabbing for the correct length of time. But my goodness that first hug made the experience worthwhile.
“I’m now looking forward to my next visit which is booked to take place on Christmas Day subject to another negative test on the day.”
Alison praised her team for the professional way they have responded since the start of the pandemic.
All of them, from housekeeper Nok Palnik to accounts manager and receptionist Shelley Cooper, and student nurse Charlotte Port, had taken on new Covid-19 roles, whether testing residents and each other for the virus, or testing critical equipment.
One resident, Richard Muirhead, paid tribute to Temple Grove staff who ensure his life carried on as normal throughout the pandemic.
“I am extremely grateful to all the staff here for keeping us free from Covid-19. This is an astonishing performance and I don’t think they have really been thanked enough by residents.”
Welfare officer Lisa Parsons heaved a sigh of relief yesterday as she saw visitors coming back into the home. “This is good for all of us, residents and staff alike,” she said.