Families have arrived on Christmas Day to visit relatives in a care home before they are fitted with surgical gowns and face masks to protect against coronavirus.
Residents of Aspen Hill Village care home in Hunslet, Leeds, were able to embrace loved ones after running lateral flow tests which produces results in 30 minutes.
Seventy-three relatives, clad in personal protective equipment (PPE), took tests and were laden with gifts and flowers as they embraced elderly loved ones during a two-hour visiting window.
To bring festive joy for the occasion, activities co-ordinator Claire Paver welcomed visitors while dressed in a Santa Claus outfit and hat, and one care home resident awaited the arrival of her family in a reindeer headband.
Mary and her son Michael McKimm arrive for a Christmas Day visit with their mother and grandmother, Rose McKimm
Lateral flow tests were rolled out to care homes in England to help enable close contact visits and combat isolation among residents.
Fluid is taken in a swab of the nose or the throat and applied to a piece of absorbent paper that changes colour to indicate whether or not the virus is present, taking just 15 to 30 minutes to produce a result.
Care worker Mary McKimm, 54, and her son Michael McKimm, 35, from Hunslet, Leeds, arrived at the home and were decked out in surgical gowns and face masks for the visit with their mother and grandmother Rose McKimm, 84.
Robert Husker is helped with putting on his PPE by Julie Grieves, activities coordinator, as he arrives for a Christmas Day visit with his wife Anne Husker
Michael was seen holding a bouquet of flowers with a green face mask while his mother Mary clutched a card and present as she walked into the nursing home.
In a heartwarming scene, Michael appeared beside Rose, who was seen in a wheelchair with festive antlers on, before her daughter Mary kissed her mother on the cheek.
Speaking to MailOnline, Mary said: ‘If I had not seen her today it would have been the first time in my whole life that I had not seen her on Christmas Day.’
In a heartwarming scene, Michael appeared beside Rose, who was seen in a wheelchair with festive antlers on, before her daughter Mary kissed her on the cheek
Michael was seen holding a bouquet of flowers with a green face mask while Mary embraced her mother
Mother-of-five Mary said had seen her mother Rose, who was a former housekeeper and has vascular dementia, twice close up since the lateral testing came into force.
She said: ‘Her face lit up when we walked in the room and then she would nod off so I would speak to her again and she would open her eyes and say, ‘oh’, all excited again.’
Speaking about the close bond with her mother, Mary said: ‘Today was very special. I promised that I wasn’t going to cry and I just cried. My mum is widowed as my dad passed away when I was eight so it has only ever been me and my mum.’
Senior Care Assistant Rohima Begum, 42, from Beeston, Leeds, told MailOnline: ‘It’s a special Christmas because it is a different Christmas.
‘The families are so appreciative and also the residents, although they don’t understand fully about the pandemic, the whole atmosphere in the home today is so up lifting.
Michael McKimm puts on his PPE ahead of his Christmas Day visit with his grandmother
‘The residents are so happy they have all got their Christmas jumpers and sparkly decorations on.’
She added: ‘It is such a special day for everyone and with everything going on. The families were so appreciative that they could come and see their loved ones.
‘One family member had not seen their father since the start of the pandemic, and even though they had to book a shorter period than normal, they were just so overwhelmed with being able to see their loved ones face to face.
Michael was seen holding a bouquet of flowers with a green face mask while his mother Mary clutched a card and present as she walked into the nursing home
‘It was just an amazing day – I think this is one of the best Christmas presents that you could have given anyone.’
Rohima, who is a mother of two sons, explained how the staff at Aspen Hill get screened every day and have a Covid-19 test once a week.
Speaking about how the lateral testing has boosted morale in the care home, she said: ‘Definitely. I do the testing for the families but on some occasions I am on the units where they see their loved ones.
‘A family member came to see her mum yesterday and told me she had been laughing so much during her visit she had stitches. She said she had not seen her mum this happy in a long time.
The pair were accompanied by activities co-ordinator Claire Paver who was dressed in a red dress with Santa hat along with a face mask for the festive occasion
‘When you hear those kind of comments it makes you feel really happy that we have the opportunity to do this for them.’
Rohima, who has been working at Aspen Hill for two years, ended: ‘We have had Christmas dinner, pulled crackers, have party hats on and now we are putting some music on or a movie!
‘The whole year has been so tough and a dampener – seeing all the families and having the atmosphere has just uplifted everyone’s spirits.’
Meanwhile Diane Schofield was seen to take a lateral flow test while wearing a surgical gown as she arrived to visit her friend Mary Kirby, who she affectionately calls Auntie Mary.
Diane Schofield held hands with Mary Kirby who she affectionately calls Auntie Mary
Diane held hands with Mary before the pair affectionately touched noses on Christmas Day
Diane wore gloves as she held hands with Mary at the care home on Christmas Day
Diane Schofield was seen to take a lateral flow test while wearing a surgical gown as she arrived to visit Mary
Diane held hands with Mary before the pair affectionately touched noses on Christmas Day.
Andrew Will walked alongside his mother Jean Glenndenning who appeared with her walker as they arrived at the nursing home to visit her husband Jeff Glenndenning.
Navjot Singh, Director at Aspen Hill Village, said: ‘This year has been difficult for the whole country, but for those people living in care homes, or with loved ones in care homes, it has been even more so.
In a lateral flow test, fluid is taken in a swab of the nose or the throat and applied to a piece of absorbent paper that changes colour to indicate whether or not the virus is present, taking just 15 to 30 minutes to produce a result
Andrew Will and his mother Jean Glenndenning arrive for a Christmas Day visit with her husband Jeff Glenndenning
Mary and her son Michael waited with Christmas gifts for their mother and grandmother
‘For some of our residents, it’s been over nine months since they’ve been able to hold hands, or have a hug, with their loved ones.’
He continued: ‘That’s why the lateral flow tests, which allow us to test visitors on the day to make sure they don’t have the virus, are so exciting.
‘It means that today, on Christmas Day, we have been able to reunite over 70 families for a much-needed hug, cup of tea and chat.
Chris Mills hands a gift in a brown bag to his mother Carol Roberts during a Christmas Day
Chris embraces his mother Carol on Christmas Day in a sweet display of affection
‘It’s brought a smile to everyone’s faces and ends a very difficult year on a high. For our staff, who have tried their best to make life as normal as possible for the people they care for.
‘It represents a bit of hope that our residents will have a more normality in 2021.’
On Wednesday the Department of Health and Social Care announced care home staff in England will receive two rapid result tests a week in addition to regular testing to help keep the new coronavirus variant at bay.
Care worker who ‘cried’ when she saw her mother’s face ‘light up’
Care worker Mary McKimm, 54, and her son Michael McKimm, 35, from Hunslet, Leeds, visited their mother and grandmother Rose McKimm, 84, at Aspen Hill Village care home on Christmas Day.
The mother-of-five and her son Michael had a lateral flow test at the home where Rose, who has vascular dementia, has lived for the past five years.
Mary told MailOnline: ‘If I had not seen her today it would have been the first time in my whole life that I had not seen her on Christmas Day.’
Care worker Mary McKimm, 54, and her son Michael McKimm, 35, from Hunslet, Leeds, visited their mother and grandmother Rose McKimm, 84, at Aspen Hill Village care home on Christmas Day
‘Today was very special. I promised that I wasn’t going to cry and I just cried.
‘My mum is widowed as my dad passed away when I was eight so it has only ever been me and my mum.’
Mary explained how this was the second time she had seen her mother close-up since the start of the pandemic after the family visited for her 84th birthday last Saturday.
Mary told how Rose, a former dinner lady and housekeeper, was ‘sleepy’ today but the opportunity to see her face-to-face was ‘lovely’.
She said: ‘Her face lit up when we walked in the room and then she would nod off so I would speak to her again. She would open her eyes and say, ‘oh’, and get all excited again.
‘My son had not seen my mother since February and everyone was happy and excited – you could overhear people chatting in the waiting area. ‘
Grandson Michael was seen holding a bouquet of flowers as he walked into the nursing home along with a stuffed doll bearing an image of his face.
Mary said: ‘Michael got her this teddy bear with his face on because she has a doll in the home and she calls it ‘wee Michael.’
‘He thought it would be a good idea to take her this teddy with his face on and because she is Scottish it has his kilt on and everything.’
Speaking about visiting Rose for her 84th birthday last Saturday, Mary said: ‘My mum doesn’t really understand much of anything but the week before when we had a lateral test she was wide awake and very alert and interactive with us.
‘Her face was smiling and laughing and she was patting me on the back. It was first time I had heard her speak in nine months.’
Mary revealed how she ensured her mother had a visit every day prior to Covid-19 restrictions and revealed it was ‘tough’ during the pandemic.