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Families reunited in lockdown at The Dunes

After months apart due to the coronavirus pandemic, residents at The Dunes extra care scheme in Redcar have been able to enjoy socially distanced visits with their families in the garden since government rules relaxed around meeting with other households in outdoor spaces.

Situated on Low Farm Drive in Redcar, The Dunes provides on-site care and support for elderly and vulnerable people living it its 64 one and two bedroom apartments to allow them to live independently, with a range of communal facilities and a large, enclosed garden area.

Colleagues from Beyond Housing, which developed the scheme with Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council under the Redcare partnership and manages day-to-day operations, have set up individual visiting spaces under gazebos for residents to reunite with family and friends in the garden, all at a safe distance.

Charis Gracie, Schemes Coordinator at Beyond Housing, said: “After almost 12 weeks of lockdown, many of our residents were feeling the effects of the separation from their families and friends. We’ve had to restrict all visits to the building, and coupled with the temporary closure of communal areas where residents could normally meet up, have a cuppa and a chat and join in with activities, it’s been a really isolating time.

“We’re extremely fortunate that The Dunes has such a spacious garden area, conveniently equipped with a comfortable bench in each corner, so with the addition of some extra chairs and the gazebos to provide some shade from the summer sun and shelter from the occasional shower, we were able to invite family members to visit their relatives while adhering safely to social distancing guidelines.”

The arrangement has proved highly popular among residents and families alike, with the 30 minute sessions being carefully managed and scheduled by colleagues from the on-site Comfortcall care team, and a maximum of three family members being invited to visit their relatives at any one time.

Over the first two weekends in June, and despite the inclement weather, the scheme allowed 27 residents to enjoy precious time with their family members. When persistent rain and high winds made use of the gazebos impossible, residents were able to move inside the building to continue chatting with their visitors through open patio doors, while safely maintaining a safe social distance of at least 2 metres.