Compassionate care visits making up for lost time for families of people in assisted living facilities

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KERNERSVILLE, N.C. — Families of loved ones in nursing homes have been ripped apart by the pandemic.

It’s a story FOX8 has been following since the first case appeared in our state one year ago today.

Nursing homes and long-term care facilities started allowing visitors again a few months back, but families are still trying to make up for lost time.

Compassionate care visits have been a difference-maker for those whose health is on a more rapid decline.

Those mean a little extra time with loved ones.

Robin Aarnold’s dad, Bobby Clinard, lives at Summerstone Health and Rehabilitation in Kernersville.

The visits mean the world to her after she went roughly seven months of only being able to see her dad from the other side of a window.

“I just kept going to window visits and sometimes you could get the staff to help hold the phone for him,” Arnold said. “Every once in a while, I’d pull it down and say, ‘Daddy it’s me’ and he would smile.”

That was months ago before Arnold could see her dad face-to-face.

“Frustrating is about the only thing I can say,” she said.

Her dad has Lewy body dementia, which causes him to forget things and has a severe impact on his motor skills.

Because of it, he suffered a bad fall in October.

By January, he got COVID-19 — a week after getting his first vaccination.

“All the residents had gotten COVID,” Arnold said. “Whenever you get the call and they say, ‘your dad is positive,’ and you got to look from a window, and you don’t know if he’s going to be the lucky one or unlucky one,” she said.

Luckily, he beat it.

All of this and more drastically changed Clinard’s health.

“I think he’s gone downhill faster because of us not being able to go in,” Arnold said.

Arnold is leaning on compassionate care visits granted to her by Summerstone.

“That way you can come in and help them whenever it’s a mealtime,” she said.

After she got her vaccine, she was eligible to become a volunteer for her dad’s care.

“What a better way to be able to volunteer and take care of your own dad,” she said.

While this year has been a rollercoaster of emotions for her family, she hopes her dad remembers one thing.

“I wish things were different and we could’ve kept him at home, but I’ll still be here for you and I’ll be coming to see you every chance I get,” Arnold said.

As for her message to the public…

“If they don’t believe in it, just remember that if you’re not careful and you give somebody COVID and they don’t have the symptoms, and they take it to someplace like that, what the outcome could be,” she said.

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