Since the Covid-19 outbreak began, French care home resident Colette Dupas’s contact with her daughters had been limited to talking via video call, or through a window.
But now the 97-year-old has been able to feel their touch, thanks to an inflatable tunnel and two plastic sleeves.
The “hug bubble” allows care home residents, isolated from the outside world to avoid catching the virus, to hold hands and embrace their visiting relatives, because at all times they are separated by a hermetically-sealed plastic film.
Dupas ran a bakery in Boussois, 6km from the nursing home, until her retirement. Her family still run the business.
During the encounter with her daughters on Friday, Dupas entered through one end of the tunnel. She stood in front of the plastic sheet with two plastic sleeves stitched into it at shoulder height where visitors insert their arms.
Her daughters Marie-Paule Dronsart and Marie-Joseph Marchant approached from the other side. Each of them put one arm through a sleeve. They patted their mother’s shoulders and stroked her white hair.
Before leaving, they took it in turns to kiss their mother on the cheek through the plastic.
“It has brought comfort,” said Stephanie Loiseau, a nursing assistant at the care home in Jeumont, near the border with Belgium, where Dupas is a resident.
Before the bubble was installed at the home, she said, “residents would see their relatives through a window or through a camera and they were really missing having real contact”.
Once Dupas and her daughters left the bubble, a care home employee disinfected the plastic sheet ready for the next encounter.