The residents of Goodwin residential aged care in Monash had a special gift on Friday afternoon, the chance to see their families driving by at a COVID-safe distance.
Fran Anlezark waved and held a sign as two of her daughters drove by on the sunny afternoon.
"It's great to see them. You miss your family terribly but they look after us very well. There's plenty to do," she said.
"But this is a lovely day to have to give us the opportunity to see our families. It's great for us oldies."
She had been able to chat to her family thanks to a video link set up by the staff, but nothing could beat seeing her daughters in person.
"They go round a couple of times. I'm so grateful to the organisers and the activity people."
Regular visitors have been barred from aged care facilities during the ACT's latest COVID-19 outbreak to prevent infections among the vulnerable residents.
Director of nursing Jacqueline Yanik said it was extremely important to find ways for the residents to see their family and friends.
"We've been very, very creative, coming up with new different ideas where people can see their loved ones," she said.
"It's not as close and personal as we'd like, but this is much much better than looking at people on screens and talking on telephones.
"So it's a wonderful experience for people, and we're so happy we can do it."
By October 15, visitors will be welcomed back but with some extra restrictions in place.
Executive manager of clinical and health services Tamra McLeod said their visitation plan would include social distancing, wearing masks, hand hygiene as well as a booking system to manage the capacity.
Goodwin has also gone further than the vaccine mandate for residential aged care workers so that all employees, contractors and visiting health practitioners across all business units need to have two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
"It's been very welcome, I think. It's just another safeguard," Ms McLeod said.
"We're in a better position than last year when we opened up. We had no vaccine, whereas this time we've got a really highly-vaccinated workforce, residents but also community in general."
Ms Yanik said the mental health effects of the lockdown were more prominent compared to last year.
The organisation allows compassionate visits in controlled settings and focuses on one-on-one conversations in people's rooms.
Therapy dogs Cooper and Zoe also help to bring a smile to the residents' faces.
The staff have learned some valuable lessons from the residents during the pandemic.
"A lot of us, you know, we live in the past and we live in the future but our residents just tell us to have the best time we can right now," Ms Yanik said.
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