Residents at a care home in Chislehurst have this week been reunited with their love ones with the use of a ground-breaking Covid-19-secure visitor pod.

The Prince George Duke of Kent Court, based at Shepherds Green in Chislehurst, closed its doors at the start of the pandemic to protect its residents, and now, thanks to new technology and equipment, visitors have been able to return.

A new visiting pod has been installed, allowing residents to safely meet with their families for the first time in months, among them a husband and wife who have been able to celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary.

The Covid-secure pod is among the first in the country, using an airtight Perspex screen and intercom system to allow both sides to speak to each other in person.

Risk has been minimised, with visitors entering and exiting the room from outside the home, and residents using a separate door inside. Both sides of the pod are deep cleaned between each visit.

The care home says staff have been working tirelessly to ensure residents have had regular contact with their families during lockdown using phone or video calls, but regrettably face to face conversations have been impossible.

Among the residents thrilled to be reunited with family was Ron Green, who said he was "overjoyed" to see his wife Sylvia on their 70th wedding anniversary!

He said: "Oh it’s wonderful to be able to see my wife again and to be able to talk!

"We’ve spoken every day, but it’s not the same is it. I can’t tell you what this means to us having this safe space open, and just in time for our wedding anniversary! It’s marvellous!”

Joined by the couple's daughter, Angela, they managed to celebrate their major milestone in person, with Sylvia describing the experience as "wonderful."

We’ve had a good old chin wag and I just haven’t stopped smiling. The Home has done a terrific job looking after Ron through all this, we can’t have asked for more.”

The visitor pod is just the latest creative way care homes have come up with to break the barrier caused by Covid-19 with the outside world. Last month, a care home in Sidcup hosted an emotional drive-through reunion with visitors and residents.

The installation of the visitor pod has been supported by local Freemasons from The Arbor Lodge and the BoB Masonic Motorcycle Group, who carried out the building work free of charge.

Home Manager, Kate Emery, said: “It means the world to our residents to be able to have their loved ones visit and chat to them.

"In normal times, they are able to have visitors whenever they like, so not being able to do that has been heart-breaking for everyone.

“We’re all looking forward to the day when they can hug each other, but until then, we hope that our new secure pod will make it a bit easier for our residents and their families."

She added: "We’re immensely grateful to our wonderful supporters for their enormous generosity and hard work.”

RMBI Home Prince George Duke of Kent Court is run by RMBI Care Co., part of the Masonic Charitable Foundation. The Home is currently able to safely welcome new residents.