Bendigo Health has introduced a new visiting pod at its aged care site in North Bendigo to bring residents and families closer together.
Residents and their families will be separated by a glass pane, but will now be able to interact for up to two hours and in greater numbers at Joan Pinder Nursing Home.
Currently, aged care visits are restricted to one hour and only one or two people are permitted to enter the facility.
Bendigo Health chairman Bob Cameron said the health service is committed to ensure the safety of its residents.
"We want to make sure we can protect our residents as much as possible and these pods help us do that," Mr Cameron said.
Nursing home residents will enter the pod from one side and their family from the opposite side.
There is no physical contact between the two sides.
No temperature testing or use of personal protective equipment would be required by those using the visiting pod, which will be vigorously cleaned after each visitor group and resident.
Each half of the pod is able to be independently heated and cooled.
Residents and visitors correspond by a phone line, with phones in both rooms.
"The pod offers extra protection and allow more visitors from the same family to attend," Mr Cameron said.
"This will be particularly useful for special occasions such as birthdays."
Bendigo Health commissioned the construction of two visitor pods, at a total cost of $50,000.
The second visitor pod will open at Golden Square's Golden Oaks Nursing Home next week.
Bendigo Health has adjusted its visitor policy numerous times since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, with aged care facilities subject to some of the harshest restrictions.
Mr Cameron said nursing homes across the state face enormous challenges as the pandemic continues.
"Our aged care facilities are places where infections can really spread rapidly," he said.
Dion Campbell hadn't visited his father Ron at Joan Pinder for six months.
Mr Campbell said the new visiting pods were a surprise at first, but are comfortable and welcoming.
"For the last few months, we would pick a nice day and have a chat over the fence, but it was weather dependent," Mr Campbell said.
"This is much nicer and makes it a lot easier to get to see dad."
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