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Families embrace first hugs for months at care homes thanks to sail-maker's ‘cuddle curtains’

Family members are finally able to hug at Forest Oaks care home in Brockenhurst with the 'cuddle curtain'
Family members are finally able to hug at Forest Oaks care home in Brockenhurst with the 'cuddle curtain'

RESIDENTS at New Forest care homes have embraced loved ones for the first time in the pandemic thanks to Covid-safe “cuddle curtains” donated by a Lymington sailmaker.

The fully reusable kits, which have been designed and manufactured at Sanders Sails, have been donated to Forest Oaks in Brockenhurst, St George’s in Milford and Little Haven in Dibden Purlieu.

Peter Sanders launched the business in a small loft 45 years ago and now employs around 20 staff. During the pandemic the workforce have divided their time between making PPE equipment and sail-making.

He said: “As a business model I probably wouldn’t recommend it, but it is incredible feeling to be able to help out.

“It is actually quite addictive – when people got in touch to ask for equipment or PPE, we always want to be able to say yes.”

After donating PPE to Forest Oaks care home, Peter was asked if he could design a reusable cuddle curtain that would enable residents to embrace their loved ones without the risk of transmitting the coronavirus.

Faced with the task of creating a cleanable curtain, Peter and his team designed the top section using clear material used for spray hoods and the bottom section with arms made out of a washable laminate material used in surgeon’s gowns.

Peter said: “Each curtain has to be made in a bespoke way to fit a frame so it is quite a task. We have also designed them with six arm holes so the curtains can be raised up – enabling visitors to cuddle the residents standing up or sitting down.

“Many of the residents in care homes have been unable to have contact with their loved ones for months, and you cannot know how long they might have left.”

Despite the cuddle curtains being expensive and time-consuming to make, Peter hopes that other care homes will now come forward asking for donations to support the project.

He said: “We have had some generous donations towards the cost of materials and as a company we have covered the labour and manufacture costs ourselves.

“Everything we give is free to the recipients. As long as it will be used and appreciated we are very happy to do it.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic Sanders Sails has donated to the NHS 25,000 PPE gowns; 1,500 sets of scrubs; 1,800 scrub bags and 1,600 face visors, as well as other bespoke equipment.

The contribution earned the firm a 2020 nomination in the British Yachting Awards for outstanding achievements.

To vote for Sanders Sails in the British Yachting Awards visit www.britishyachtingawards.com

To donate towards material costs visit www.sanders-sails.co.uk

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