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Boost for residents and loved ones as government gives green light to visits in new COVID-secure spaces

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The COVID-secure rooms in (left-right) Solihull and Surbiton.

Relatives and loved ones will be able to meet Royal Star & Garter residents during the latest lockdown and beyond following new guidance issued by the government.


Royal Star & Garter has built COVID-secure indoor meeting rooms in each of its Solihull, Surbiton and High Wycombe Homes, following the receipt of a £100,000 donation. This will enable the charity to meet new guidelines and allow relatives to continue safely visiting their loved ones throughout the winter months.


However, while Royal Star & Garter has been able to benefit from the support of a generous donor, it is aware that other organisations in the care home sector may struggle to meet the criteria set out. The charity is one of over 60 organisations representing relatives, carers and providers to sign up to the Visiting Care Homes campaign organised by the National Care Forum (NCF) – the leading member association for not-for-profit social care providers. In an open letter sent to the government, it has warned it would be “intrinsically harmful” for residents not to receive visits, calling it “an erosion of people’s human rights.”

Royal Star & Garter is a charity which provides loving, compassionate care to veterans and their partners living with disability or dementia. It is looking to invest further in rapid tests and more visiting spaces, as part of its strategy to allow visits to take place safely over winter and beyond. As outlined in the NCF campaign, it also strongly supports the call for designated ‘key worker’ status for family members, providing them with regular testing so safe visits can happen inside care homes.


The £100,000 donation to support this project came from Scheinberg Relief Fund, a $50m philanthropic fund established by businessman and philanthropist Mark Scheinberg, together with his family, in March 2020 to help tackle the direct impact of Covid-19. The new rooms will allow up to two visitors per resident without supervision. Residents and relatives will enter from different entrances, and be partitioned by a floor-to-ceiling pane of glass. The rooms have a homely feel to them, with the grant also covering furnishings and high-tech sound systems to allow for a more natural conversation, and to help those that are hard of hearing. The rooms will be thoroughly cleaned after each visit.


The charity has been awaiting local approval for use of their COVID-secure rooms, and this has been given for the two they have built in Solihull. Families have been unable to visit residents at the Home there since 8 September due to regional restrictions. But thanks to their COVID-secure rooms, visits with loved ones will begin again on Monday, 16 November, after more than two months.

The COVID-secure room in Surbiton

Chief Executive Andy Cole said “We are so pleased that our residents will be able to benefit from continued visits from their loved ones. However, this is still not sufficient for some residents and we fully support the NCF’s campaign in calling for rapid testing in care homes, and for relatives to be given key worker status. Much more needs to be done to prevent hundreds of thousands of care home residents across the country being isolated from their families. We know how much time with family boosts residents’ well-being and morale, and we’re delighted that visits will continue thanks to the generous support of Scheinberg Relief Fund. It will mean the world to our residents and their families.”


Royal Star & Garter and Scheinberg Relief Fund plan to share the learnings around the construction of the COVID-secure indoor spaces with other care home providers and charities both in the UK and the other countries where SRF focuses its funding support.


Royal Star & Garter’s Homes in Solihull, Surbiton and High Wycombe are all welcoming new residents. For more information on this, and anything else, please visit:

Andy Cole: "Much more needs to be done to prevent hundreds of thousands of care home residents being isolated from their families."
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