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Imagine you are moving house. You’ve been living alone, struggling with day-to-day tasks, so you’ve decided to move into a care home that allows you to be closer to your loved ones. When you get to that home, you’ll be able to see your family every day, including your little great-granddaughter, who always brings a smile to your face.

Now imagine you have dementia and you’re moving into a care home the day before lockdown. You may increasingly be confused and scared because you no longer recognise things that used to be familiar. You’re moving to an entirely new place, in a new town and your family - your source of security and familiarity - are no longer able to visit you. It’s a daunting thought.

This was the case for Uranie Moore, a resident at The Heights nursing home in Downley, High Wycombe. Uranie moved into the home and was unable to have her family around for the usual “settling in period”. When someone with dementia moves into our homes, a lot of care and support goes into helping them settle, as the move itself can cause further confusion, distress and deterioration. Normally, the familiarity of family members visiting in those initial weeks goes a very long way, but with lockdown in place, residents are having to make that journey without this usual source of support and comfort.  

However, thanks to the extraordinary efforts from the team at The Heights, Uranie has quickly settled in to the home. The team have helped Uranie adjust to her new surroundings and to still have regular contact with her family. The team even arranged a fantastic surprise on her birthday.

On 21st April, Uranie turned 92 years old. The team started the day by surprising Uranie with a Familigram delivery that wished her a Happy Birthday from her family. Uranie was overjoyed at receiving her post, but that wasn’t all the team had in store for her!

After reading her message, Uranie was told to close her eyes as she was taken out into the garden. The care team instructed “No peeking!” as Uranie’s family were quietly ushered into the garden through the side gate. When Uranie was told to open her eyes, she was greeted with a round of “Happy Birthday”, enthusiastically sung by three generations worth of her relatives and her carers.

Uranie’s daughter expressed her absolute delight and gratitude to the team at The Heights for making this happen. The family initially thought they would only be going to drop off presents and cards at the front door. Instead, they were met by a member of the team who showed them how to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) before leading them round to the garden.

Whilst it was a very difficult decision to close our homes to visitors, we’ve been working very hard to support people to stay in touch with their friends and relatives because we know how important it is in maintaining residents’ wellbeing. The teams have been trialling ways of arranging visits with family whilst maintaining social distancing guidelines. We think it’s safe to say that this was a very successful effort!

The team at The Heights have truly gone above and beyond to make Uranie feel at home and safe, a sentiment that is whole-heartedly supported by Uranie’s family.