The move means that many of the founding principles of the Primrose Gardens development – which were designed to keep its residents active and independent – have had to be mothballed for now.
READ & WATCH MORE >>> Is this the future of elderly care in Lancashire?The “extra care” facility, operated by Chorley Council, has been forced to close its two communal lounges and dance studio - and suspend all group activities. Seating areas have also been removed.
Its residents – who live in their own self-contained apartments within the complex – had previously been encouraged to gather together and socialise in order to combat isolation and provide mental and physical stimulation.
Visitors are still able to come to individual flats, but they must use the extra hand-sanitising facilities which have been introduced and not loiter in other areas of the building.
Glyn Bouskill and his wife Sylvia, who were amongst the first residents to move into the Fleet Street development, understand the reasoning behind the changes – but are saddened by the situation, nevertheless.
“We’ll get through this and we’ve got everything we need – it’s just not as nice as what we had been enjoying since we first came here,” said Glyn, 71, who was at the forefront of efforts to foster a sense of community within the facility.
“You don’t get to meet up with anybody anymore - but at least we have our balcony and can enjoy the fresh air.”
But while normal life is paused, the couple are poised to get back into the swing of things when the time comes.
For 75-year-old Sylvia that includes rearranging a planned one-mile zip wire experience in North Wales which can hit speeds of 100mph.
“I’m disappointed that it’s been cancelled, but we will get there,” Sylvia said.
Staff at the Primrose Gardens development must declare themselves free of relevant symptoms at the beginning of each shift. Residents continue to receive their usual pre-planned care packages in their own apartments, while 24-hour emergency support remains available for them as normal.
Chorley Council leader Alistair Bradley said: “In line with the latest government advice, we’ve introduced several measures at Primrose Gardens to limit the number of non-residents and non-essential staff that enter the building to help to reduce the risk of coronavirus to residents.
"Although it’s been a difficult decision to make, we have suspended the use of the communal areas, such as the common rooms and the dance studio. We’ve also installed extra facilities for hand washing and sanitising for visitors, amongst other things.
"The team at Primrose Gardens are in regular contact with residents and are ensuring that they have the right support, including offers of help with food shopping.
"We’ll continue to follow government advice and implement measures required to help protect both residents and staff.”