In an aged care facility in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where visiting restrictions have been in place for months and are unlikely to be lifted any time soon, residents and their loved ones now have a new way to meet, that even allows them to embrace, providing families with important connection, and much needed reassurance.
Brazil remains firmly in the grips of COVID-19, with the nation recording the second-highest rates of infection in the world, and thousands of new cases still being reported every day.
Elderly Brazilians living in residential care have been in lockdown for months, and the situation is unlikely to change in the near future.
Moved by the hardships and isolation of older people living in residential care, local businessman and party decorator, Bruno Zani, was inspired to develop a ‘hugging curtain’ to allow loved ones to safely visit those confined in nursing homes.
Mr Zani’s innovation has been implemented in a nursing home in Sao Paulo and is allowing families to embrace for the first time in months. He hopes the curtain will be used throughout the city and beyond.
The ‘hugging curtain’ consists of a large, clear plastic sheet with deep pockets through which arms can be extended to provide comforting hugs, the simple act of love and reassurance that has been necessarily impossible during the pandemic.
As added protection, visitors also wear shoulder-length gloves, and the plastic is regularly sanitised.
Those who care for older people, who are most at risk from COVID-19, are having to find innovative ways to keep residents safe.
“We now realise that the pandemic will last much longer than expected,” one carer said to AFP New Agency.
“We need to find safe ways for these families to see their loved ones, so the elderly residents can greet their families and understand that they are still concerned and dedicated to them.”
Australia is in the fortunate position that our COVID-19 numbers are now so low, most aged care facilities are gradually and carefully lifting visitor restrictions.
In this environment, it can be easy to forget the calamitous events the deadly virus is still causing overseas.
Brazil has recorded more than 850,000 COVID-19 cases, and though numbers are flattening, it is still recording thousands of new infections every day.
Brazil has reported the second-highest number of COVID-19 deaths, with more than 43,000 people succumbing to the disease.
Similar devices have been developed around the world as people struggle to find ways for families to remain connected during the pandemic while still complying with tough visitor restrictions.
As one son told AFP after visiting his mother, “I think it was good for her and also good for us because we’re not hugging anyone either lately, right?
“It was great to hug someone.”
Image: AFP News Agency, YouTube.