This Eastbourne care home is holding drive-thru visits for families – at a safe distance

A local care home has started drive-thru visits for family members of its residents.
Hankham Lodge drive thru visitHankham Lodge drive thru visit
Hankham Lodge drive thru visit

The new scheme at Hankham Lodge means elderly residents can safely see their loved ones after weeks of shielding during the covid-19 pandemic.

It is thought to be one of the first care homes in the area to try such an initiative.

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Owner and manager Peter Sims said it is ‘raising the quality of life’ of people who live there.

He said, “We take out the residents in a wheelchair or they can sit on a bench. The family come out and have a loud conversation from a distance, which we think is safe at this stage.”

The care home, in Hankham Hall Road, has an ‘in and out’ car park which makes the visits possible.

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Peter said, “We have had feedback saying ‘thank you very much’. Not many places are doing it. It’s raising the quality of life. We have been in lockdown for nine weeks now.”

Over this period, family and loved ones have only been able to contact the residents via video call or through a window at the home.

“It’s surreal,” said Mr Sims, “In a year or two’s time when this calms down we’ll think ‘that was like a dream’.” But he said, “The staff are so brilliant. No one here is symptomatic.”

Mr Sims said they have been able to keep coronavirus at bay by locking down early, before the Government announced it. They stopped visits and disinfected any deliveries to the home.

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But it hasn’t been plain sailing. Like many care homes, Hankham Lodge has struggled to get hold of personal protective Eequipment (PPE). Mr Sims said, “We had 300 masks delivered out of the blue. And since then, nothing.”

Even worse, at the start of the outbreak, they struggled to get food. He said, “Everyone stripped the shelves and you couldn’t get deliveries for love nor money.

“We scraped and scrimped and sent staff to stand in line with other key workers. For two weeks that went on for.”

He said, “It was absolutely awful, desperately worrying. Especially for us, we have got 18 vulnerable residents. You didn’t know where the next meal was coming from.

“Luckily we have got resourceful staff and I did my best.”

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Despite the easing of lockdown, drive-thru visits could be the only form of contact for some time.

Mr Sims said, “We can’t afford to ease here, no matter what’s happening outside. If we get the virus here it’s life or death.”

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