An emotional reunion between a married couple divided for a year by care home lockdown rules has highlighted the pain of separation still faced by thousands of people.
Stanley Harbour, 83, and his wife Mavis Harbour, 81, embraced at the Lever Edge care home in Great Lever, Bolton in a moment captured on film by care workers who had laid out flowers and champagne flutes to mark the moment.
Stanley, who lives with dementia, had been confined to the home since his wife last visited him in February 2020, before the Covid-19 pandemic triggered care home lockdowns, and they had been “lost without each other” according to the Manchester Evening News.
Mavis Harbour kissed and hugged her husband before they sat together holding hands across a table scattered with rose petals. A care worker in face mask and visor poured them glasses of sparkling wine.
“I couldn’t believe it when I saw Mavis,” said Stanley, according to the paper. “It was like a dream.”
The couple, who met in the late 1950s and married in the 1960s, have two sons, three grandchildren and one great grandchild.
“We were so pleased to reunite Stanley and Mavis,” said Lisa Martin, home manager at Lever Edge care home. “There wasn’t a dry eye in the room when she was finally able to see her beloved Stanley again.”
Although almost all care home residents have now had their first dose of vaccine, visits remain highly restricted and must be conducted from behind windows or screens, if they are allowed at all. Many homes are awaiting government guidance about how the vaccination programme may allow them to increase contact, the lack of which relatives and residents believe has been causing serious mental and physical health problems.
Last week, care minister Helen Whately indicated residents will need their second dose before visits can restart.
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