It’s a basic gesture of human affection that we just can’t live without. But with the lockdown at nursing homes, due to COVID-19, people have gone as long as seven months without hugging their loved ones in long term care facilities.


Rivercross Hospice has found a way for people to safely embrace. It’s called the "cuddle curtain." The curtain is a plastic sheet with four holes - two on each side for people on opposite sides of the curtain to put their arms through. There are plastic sleeves covering the arms and participants wear plastic gloves when using the curtain.


"The main purpose is for families to be able to start seeing their loved ones and to be able to hug them," Gina Wallace, LPN with Rivercross Hospice said. "It’s up to the facilities on when they will allow families to come utilize the cuddle curtain."


Tanya Chancellor, hospice liaison with Rivercross, said, "As long as the nursing homes allow, we will be working directly with the homes staff to coordinate."


Any nursing home can ask to borrow the curtain. Staff from Rivercross will show them how to use it. The curtain is cleaned and sanitized before and after each use, Chancellor said.


The administrator for Hospice, Christina Ellis, came up with the idea for the cuddle curtain after seeing something similar on TV, Chancellor said.


"Myself and our Volunteer Coordinator Susan Bursch demonstrated it and it was amazing to hug someone not in my immediate family again, and Susan gives great hugs," Chancellor said.


The curtains fold into medical bags for easy transport and storage, Chancellor said.


"Any nursing community can contact us to reserve the curtain," Chancellor said. "We will drop it off, put it together and show them how to use it."