Residents at a ground-breaking care home in the Borders are enjoying extensive contact with close relatives while remaining Covid-free.
Dr Jane Douglas, chief executive of award-winning Queen’s House in Kelso, vowed to make safe visiting a top priority after seeing residents become quiet and withdrawn during lockdown.
She is now leading the way in reuniting families after refusing to keep the doors closed and instead introducing new procedures, staff, equipment and training at the charity-run facility.
New Government guidelines were introduced in October, allowing elderly people left in isolation for seven months to finally hug and hold hands with loved ones.
But thousands of families have been left furious that homes have not implemented the updated procedures despite fears loneliness could claim more lives than coronavirus.
Jane said: “Care homes should be vibrant places but when we closed our doors a silence descended and I don’t believe that is the sort of place a care home should be.
“In March, we believed it was the right thing when we thought it would be over by the summer but as things went on we were seeing people become more withdrawn and I didn’t want that to continue.
“My concern, from a human rights point of view, was that if we continued to prevent people seeing loved ones, that would just be wrong.
“I would have felt very upset and concerned if we had continued to do that in my care home. I felt quite strongly that we had to start visiting again.
“The challenge was to do that safely and I knew we had to put in the effort to develop new roles, introduce training and proper guidance for families, as well as having all the correct equipment and procedures in place.”
Jane is not only a qualified nurse with extensive experience working in the US and the UK but also has a degree in law and MSc in dementia studies.
Before becoming CEO at Queen’s House, she spent time at Scottish Borders Council as lead commissioner for older people.
She added: “We have tried to give all the contact that…