Care home installs 'hug room' so lonely elderly can finally cuddle families

Heartwarming pictures show Italian care home residents embracing their families in a ‘hug room’ after months of loneliness amid the coronavirus crisis.

The Domenico Sartor home in Castelfranco, Veneto, has created a special anti-contagion curtain that makes it possible for elderly people to cuddle their loved ones without the risk of contracting Covid-19.

There are high hopes the device could be replicated in other retirement homes, as many pensioners are left ‘devastated’ by the lack of contact with their families during the pandemic.

Relatives of residents must pass strict hygiene and safety protocols before entering the isolated ‘hug room’, or ‘stanza degli abbracci’.

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Masked relatives are allowed inside the room in small groups and put their hands into a transparent plastic curtain, before hugging their elderly family members.

One pensioner living in the northern Italy care home had tears in her eyes as she spoke about her long-awaited cuddle with her daughter.

She told TGcom24: ‘I was finally able to hug my daughter again. After weeks of video calls, it seemed like a mirage. It was a contact that I had been missing for too long.’

It comes as a number of UK care home residents open up about the misery they feel being cut off from their loved ones.

Scottish great-gran Mary Fowler has warned the situation is ‘cutting her to bits’, saying she must see her children soon as ‘time is getting on for me’. 

Deputy Mayor of Italian town Trieste, Paolo Polidori, has said the ‘hug room’ ‘absolutely’ must be considered in other areas in order to save people from feeling isolated as a second wave of coronavirus grips Europe.

Italy reported its highest death toll since April 6 on Thursday, with a further 636 people dying with the virus.

More than one million people have been infected with Covid-19 across the country since the pandemic hit.

Mayor Polidori said: ‘For months, relatives have not been able to visit their loved ones and who knows how long this will continue for.

‘We will work to find funds, in collaboration with the health agency, the government and all the parties involved to give relief to our loved ones as they find themselves in a devastating situation.’

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