Life

One young woman’s on her emotional reunion with her 97-year-old grandmother in a care home after a year apart

Being unable to see our loved ones has undoubtedly been one of the hardest parts of lockdown, but that separation has been felt even harder by those with family in care homes. Now that restrictions are easing, one young woman tells Stylist about her emotional reunion with her 97-year-old grandmother. 

The light at the end of the pandemic tunnel is in sight and, as we take tentative steps back into normality, longed-for reunions with family and friends are on the cards. For those with relatives in care homes, this is particularly exciting because, until recently, visitors were banned and residents not allowed to leave.

Due to vaccinations (care homes were one of the priority groups to receive jabs) and dropping case rates, in early March the government allowed care home residents to nominate one regular visitor again. This was increased to two on 12 April and five from the 17 May, with visitors are required to take a rapid lateral flow test, wear PPE and abide by social distancing guidelines.

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While some care homes allowed garden visits last summer, many residents haven’t seen their relatives in a care home for over a year. For many young women, this has meant being separated from their elderly grandparents. Although phone and video calls may have allowed people to stay in touch to a certain extent, it’s been a lost lifeline for both parties over a difficult and isolating time.

Stylist spoke to 31-year-old Hannah from Southampton who was recently reunited with her grandmother, Margot, at CHD Living’s Surbiton care home. Here, she shares details of the emotional experience. 

“It’s been a long year not being able to visit my nan in her care home. Margot is 97 and actually turns 98 next month. When people are that old, it is a really long time and that time feels precious. It’s been particularly hard not to see her over the last year as I found out I was pregnant in the autumn. Even more so because my husband and I have struggled for a while to conceive.

Margot is a big part of my life and we are very close. We lived near her growing up and she regularly looked after me and my two brothers. I have lots of fond memories of her taking us swimming and on days out to Hampton Court and Kingston river.

We’ve kept in touch over the phone throughout the pandemic but she has bad hearing so ringing her is a bit of a nightmare. She has hearing aids but it is still hard for her to hear well over the phone. She struggles with that a lot. Often she can’t hear what we’re saying, which gets her stressed. The ladies that work in the home help us do family video calls - they’ve been really helpful translating for us - but it’s not the same. Face-to-face conversation is, of course, much better.”

Family reunited with elderly grandparents
Hannah was reunited with her 97-year-old grandmother, Margot.

“Margot has had a tough year and actually caught Covid in January. Luckily, she didn’t have to go into the hospital but she was kept in isolation at the care home which was a really difficult time for all the family. We were not sure if she was going to make it. I thought she might not get to see me while I was pregnant or be around to meet my baby but she did! Her surviving that was amazing.

In late April, my husband and I found out we would be able to go visit her at the care home. We were thrilled. It was particularly important for me to make the visit while I was pregnant. I’m 38 weeks now and due any day!

After taking a rapid test and waiting half an hour for the results, we were allowed in. It was very emotional. She surprised us with a mini baby shower. There were gifts for the baby, a banner and balloons; it was really special. She loves seeing her grandchildren at their different milestones so I am so glad we got to see each other. She’s super excited. She has six grandchildren and already has one great grandchild that was born last year so this will be her second great grandchild.”

“Our visit really cheered her up. She has had both her vaccinations now. In fact, the whole care home has. Now they have also brought in rapid testing for visitors, it makes it much easier to visit. 

We’re really looking forward to going back when the baby is born. It will be so special to hand over the baby to her.”

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Main image: Getty/ Photo:Hannah’s own

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