'Grim': Woman can only see husband 30 minutes a week

Oamaru rest-home staff are urging residents’ families to be tolerant of Covid-19 Level 2 restrictions that limit their visits.

An Oamaru woman contacted the Oamaru Mail this week, upset by not being allowed to see her husband for more than half an hour a week, at a pre-arranged time and in a pre-arranged location.

The woman, whose husband of 40 years was in an Oamaru rest-home, said she “didn’t want to kick up a stink” and appreciated the care given by the staff.

However, both she and her husband were suffering from the lack of contact, and she believed that would be the case for most others in their situation.

It did not seem fair that she could be surrounded by strangers in a cafe or by up to 100 others at a party, yet she could not sit with her husband and hold his hand.

“It is just grim.”

All Oamaru rest-homes spoken to by the Oamaru Mail had similar regulations during Alert Level 2, based on advice from the Southern District Health Board.

Visits are to be arranged in advance and last no more than 30 minutes in a place where staff can monitor activity and sanitise the area.

Harbour View Rest Home owner Denise Jessares said the regulations were “no easier for us” than they were for family members.

“It’s not pleasant.”

The residents were “very vulnerable” to illness and had to be protected against the possibility of visitors carrying infections.

“For us, Level 2 is harder to manage than Level 3 and Level 4.”

Mrs Jessares said the fact that residents’ family members could mix with a wide cross-section of people was largely responsible for the limited visits have picked up an infection in between visits to the rest-home.

Observatory Village assistant manager Jane Ralston said pre-booked, one-on-one visits in the rest-home’s lounge were the only way staff could control contact.

“We’ve kept our residents safe this long. Virtually all residents’ families have been very understanding.”

Changes would be made if there was an end-of-life situation, Mrs Ralston said.

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