It was an emotional reunion when a mother and daughter and were brought face to face after months of coronavirus-enforced separation.

93-year-old Sylvia Smith and Gill Houghton was able to see her daughter (from behind the safety of a Perspex screen) thanks to a Loughton care home’s specially designed built summer house.

Woodland Grove on Rectory Lane installed the summer house in its grounds so residents and their relatives can meet safely during the coronavirus lockdown.

Sylvia was the first resident at the 72-room home to use it.

“It was lovely to see my daughter, I haven’t seen her since the beginning of March,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting the summer house to be like that inside at all, it was very very nice. I’m already looking forward to the next visit!”

Woodland Grove, run by Oakland Care, closed its doors to all but essential visitors in March.

The home has remained Covid-19 free through strict infection control procedures, introduced at a very early stage, bosses say.

Families have their temperatures taken before entering the summer house. There is a clear screen fitted between them and their loved one with an intercom that allows them to hear each other clearly. Residents enter from one side while up to two family members from the same household are shown into the other side via the garden.

The summer house is cleaned and disinfected between each visit.

Home manager Hazel McGwyne said: “It’s been amazing for our residents’ wellbeing, and for their families’ too. We have kept them in touch via Skype calls and FaceTime but it’s not the same as seeing your loved one in front of you. It is wonderful to be able to bring them together safely.

“We have been, and currently are, Covid-19 free, and because we want to maintain that status, we will continue to restrict visits inside the home for the time being. But the summer house means that anyone who is thinking of moving in can be reassured they will be able to have contact with their family.”

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