Hugging station reunites loved ones at a memory care facility

Kathie Weathermon hadn’t hugged her husband, Bud, for nearly eight months.

That’s because Bud is a senior resident who lives at the Windsong at Southridge Memory Care Community in Kennewick.

Due to the pandemic and the following visitation restrictions to nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and more, most families hadn’t been able to see their loved ones except for maybe a window visit or a Zoom call.

Workers at the center knew they had to find a way to reconnect and reunite residents with their kin.

The answer? A COVID-19 safe “hugging station.”

All it took was a clear curtain, embroidery hoops, and plastic sleeves. With masks and gloves on, people could stand on opposing sides and put their arms through the plastic holes to wrap them around their loved ones.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Our Windsong Hug station was a beautiful and heart warming day. This event met all…

Posted by WindSong at Southridge on Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Kris Todd, the community relations director, said her family created the portable structure to help “bring a Christmas miracle.”

“Our residents haven’t felt their families touch in at least eight months,” Todd said. “It takes a very big toll. Everyone needs a touch from a family member and when they don’t get it, it makes them sad.”

One resident was able to hold his great-great-grandchild for the first time.

For others, it had been nearly a year since they last touched.

Weathermon said the first hug felt “amazing.”

“I was so terribly pleased and touched with how beautiful it all turned out,” Weathermon said.

Weathermon noted that she and the rest of Bud’s family could hardly wait for their turn.

“He kept hugging. It was like, okay, Bud, now it’s time to hug Keith, and it’s time to hug Peggy. Oh but Bud, I need one more hug too,” Weathermon said.

Family members could sign up for specific time-slots to ensure social distancing and that they were following COVID-19 protocol.

Todd said the event was “a huge success” and it brought tears to her eyes.

“Families were not able to touch for so long that even just hand-holding through the curtain was amazing,” Todd said. “When the residents grabbed a hold of their loved one’s hands, they just didn’t want to let go.”

Todd said that the center plans to keep the portable hugging station up so that families can come back for a hug year-round.