The ingenuity of a Geelong aged care facility in overcoming a lack of contact for residents and families during the COVID-19 pandemic by building a one-of-a-kind visitor pod has gained international acclaim.
When COVID-19 struck, Multicultural Aged Care Services (MACS) Geelong CEO, Joy Leggo said she knew the facility had to find a way to keep its residents connected with family and friends.
“Our residents and families are everything to us,” said Joy.
“Caring for them is just so important. We wanted to get back to normal as soon as possible but in a way that kept our residents safe.
She said as a group, the MACS staff began discussing how they could manage COVID-19 restrictions placed upon the facility while still providing a connection with families during the pandemic.
“Someone happened to say, ‘What about a container?’ and from there the ideas just flowed.”
“We had an amazing builder who had already done some work for us. He had a passion and knew how important that connection was for us.”
And so the MAC’s visitor pod was born – a shipping container converted into a beautiful meeting space, with comfy chairs, artwork and a central glass petition that allows visual but not physical contact between residents and their families and friends.
“We wanted to make the container a welcoming place to come,” says Joy.
“It has a hearing loop in it so the hearing-impaired could hear easily, and the doors are wide enough to get chairs in for those who no longer walk.”
Since it’s launch the pod has been a “wonderful success” says Joy, with visits from dozens of family and friends, birthday parties celebrated and even family pets allowed to visit.
“The fear of being apart and not seeing someone is very distressing and our organisation in Geelong has 66 different nationalities, so having that language connection is also so vital to our residents.”
Joy was recently invited to speak at a virtual international panel of the UNESCO Cities of Design Event in Lithuania – a global forum that explored the role design has played during times of crisis.
“We needed to be nimble and adapt quickly to do this,” she told the international panel.
“But we never thought we’d get response that it has.”
“Innovation has always been at the forefront here at MACS. We’re a creative bunch and I’m really proud of this one.”
“The visitor pod is one of the ways we can insure that family connection continues.”