IT'S been months since Vanessa Price has been able to give her mum a hug. With advanced, early-onset dementia, her 71-year-old mother, Hetty Neil, has called Uniting Care's Lindsay Gardens home since just before the last COVID-19 lockdown in 2020.
'Window visits' have been allowed, and for that the family is very grateful, Ms Price said, but being able to see her face-to-face is something she is very much looking forward to.
"It's really, really hard to engage with someone with dementia through a window," Ms Price said. "You can't have a conversation with mum anymore, and so when you see her you want to do things with her."
Visits since the region went into lockdown in August have been limited to seeing her through the window, she said.
"We've just tried to make the best of it," she said. "We've just been singing songs through the window, or taking a coffee for staff to give her. It's quite upsetting seeing your loved one through a window, but we don't want to complain because some people haven't even had that as an option."
Ms Price and her sister have locked in dates to see their mum next week, as soon as they have waited the obligatory two weeks after their second vaccinations.
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"Seeing her family is really important," she said. "We do a lot with her, we're very involved in her life. It's such a horrible, progressive disease. Every day, every month is time we're missing out on with her and I think she has declined over the last couple of months. We haven't been able to get in there and give her a hug, it's time that's taken away."
With the easing of restrictions, people are allowed to visit their loved ones in aged care facilities, up to two people per day per resident, and two people only at a time, as long as they are double-vaxed. While some facilities have allowed 'window visits' and others have received exemptions to allow visits if guests are dressed up in PPE, many have allowed no visits whatsoever.
Pauline Boswell, facility manager of Waterview Aged Care at Teralba, said she had witnessed many exciting scenes this week as family members have been welcomed back to visit their loved ones.
"It's very nice to see them get back together, some have just broken down and cried when they see each other," she said. "It's very rewarding, to see them being able to give them a hug and reconnect."
The facility was inundated with requests to visit on 'freedom day' on Monday, Mrs Boswell said. Staff had since organised three rooms for people to use for visits, so they don't walk through the whole facility past the common areas.
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