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Cuddling in COVID-19: 'Hug bubble' lets seniors feel the magic of touch

Cuddling in COVID-19: 'Hug bubble' lets seniors feel the magic of touch

A bubble room installed to visit residents in the garden of the Fondation Shadet Vercoustre retirement home in Bourbourg. (Photo: Reuters)

JEUMONT, France: Since the COVID-19 outbreak, French care home resident Colette Dupas's contact with her daughters has been limited to talking via video call, or through a window.

Now the 97-year-old has been able to feel their touch, thanks to an inflatable tunnel and two plastic sleeves.

A bubble room installed to visit residents in the garden of the Fondation Shadet Vercoustre retirement home in Bourbourg. (Photo: Reuters)

The "hug bubble" allows care home residents, isolated from the outside world to protect them from the virus, to hold hands and embrace visiting relatives, because at all times they are separated by a hermetically-sealed plastic film.

READ: France's PM says COVID-19 vaccines will be free for all

Dupas ran a bakery in Boussois, 6km from the nursing home, until her retirement. Her family still run the business.

When meeting her daughters on Friday (Dec 4), Dupas entered through one end of the tunnel. She stood in front of the plastic sheet and put her arms through two plastic sleeves stitched into the film at shoulder height.

A contact bubble allows seniors to hug their loved ones in France. (Photo: Reuters) A contact bubble allows seniors to hug their loved ones in France

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.

READ: COVID-19 circulating more quickly than in spring: French epidemiologist

Before leaving, they took 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.

A contact bubble allows seniors to hug their loved ones in France. (Photo: Reuters) A contact bubble allows seniors to hug their loved ones in France

Before the bubble was installed at the home, she added, "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 worker disinfected the plastic, ready for the next encounter: Fabienne Dewille meeting her mother, Raymonde Loire.

Dewille used the plastic sleeves to grip her mother's hands. "It feels good to be able to meet like this, doesn't it?" she said to her mother. 

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Source: Reuters/kv

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