Wylesfield in Powys has become one of the first in Wales to receive a new temporary 'visitor pod', thanks to funding from the Welsh Government.

97-year-old Rosina Mayer has lived there for almost a year and this week, along with her son Richard, became the first resident to experience the new pod, describing it as "super".

Her son Richard Mayer, said it made "a huge difference" to the "draughty, make-shift gazebo" they were used to meeting in.

The pod is designed to give care homes extra space to facilitate visits safely and comfortably. It's heated, with a perspex screen in between visitors, and families can book a slot online or over the phone.

The care home's Service Manager Lowri Owen said the pod would hopefully be able to "give everybody the boost they need" before Christmas. "It’s been a long hard slog and nobody could have imagined this but as a team here we’ve stuck together, we’ve got each other through it, so far so good and our residents are safe and well and happy. Now they’ll be able to see their families just in time for Christmas so that’s going to make a massive difference. It’ll give everybody the boost they need just before Christmas hopefully."

Last month the Welsh Government announced a £3 million pilot project to help care homes procure, install and lease out around a hundred pods.

The funding also includes £1m for plans to support providers who have made their own arrangements on a similar, rental basis for a period of up to six months.

It's hoped the pods can help families to visit loved-ones during the winter months; something Simon Kezic-Williams, Regional Operations Director for Shaw Healthcare, says is vital for everyone. He said, "This means we can manage visiting safely and effectively for relatives to be able to visit their loved ones and spend some quality time with them through let's face it what's been a really, really difficult time for people this year."

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Dear Relatives,

In England, the Government has just announced that visits to care homes may take place following a ‘negative Covid-19 test’. I just wanted to clarify that this relates to the new Lateral Flow Tests only. The new Lateral Flow Test (or LFT) can give a test result within 30 mins. Thus enabling us to have an accurate up-to-date Covid-19 test result from which we can either agree or decline a visit almost instantly assuming it was pre-booked.

As of today less than a handful of our homes have received these new LFT tests and as such until your particular service receives their allocated test kits then we will need to continue with the current visiting arrangements in place at your particular home.

We do hope the new tests are rolled out quickly and we are told that many homes should have them prior to Xmas however as we are not aware of when they are dispatched and where to, then all we can do is wait and let you know as soon as your service receives their allocation. Only then can we facilitate the new visiting arrangements which these tests are designed to enable.

Thank you for your continued patience. You have been incredibly supportive of our care home teams so far and we hope you do not have long to wait before you can see your loved ones in a way that we all have been longing for since the start of the pandemic.

Thank you again.

Mike Smith Chief Operating Officer