Texas senior living center uses ‘hugging booth’ to bring families closer during pandemic

Texas

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (NBC News/KXAN) — With visiting restrictions on many senior living centers, the coronavirus pandemic has been a lonely time for residents and their loved ones.

But one center in Corpus Christi, Texas, found a way to bring families together in a safe way.

A sheet of plastic with holes and specialty sleeves may seem simple, but for residents and their loved ones, the divider is special.

“We have been up to visit him a couple of times where we could pass things to him. This is the first time we can actually touch him. I think it is great. I hope all the places do it,” said Barbara Culp, who visited her 96-year-old father.

The Solstice Senior Living Center director says everything at the “hugging booth” is CDC-friendly. They wipe down everything with two kinds of cleaners in between each use.

Kim Buchanan visited her elderly mother and described the booth as “amazing.”

“It was something you didn’t want to let go. You just want to keep holding her,” said Buchanan. “I have not been able to physically touch her since February. Solstice has done a great job about keeping our families protected. It has been a long time coming.”

“I can’t describe it,” said Solstice resident Judi Barraba. “It has been so long. Usually we are a huggy, huggy family. So not being able to do it for five or six months, it has been hard.”

In Texas, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission recently announced limited visitation rules for nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

While physical contact is still not allowed, outdoor visits are.

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