Hugging blanket helps loved ones reconnect at senior housing community

Staff members make hugging blanket for residents and family members to use during pandemic
Bob and Marilyn Divine embrace using the hugging blanket.

PARSONS, Kan. – It’s called a hugging blanket. Elm Haven East staff got the idea from Facebook to allow loved ones to embrace safely though plastic sheeting.

“The lack of social contact for upwards of six months has been very hard. I think actually harder on the families at home than the residents,” says administrator John Conner.

Bob Divine and his wife, Marilyn, have been married for 67 years. Even before the pandemic, he would visit her everyday.

They have only hugged three times in the last six months with the use of the hugging blanket.

“It’s better than nothing,” says Bob.

Elm Haven East has been allowing in-person visits and the use of the hugging blanket for the last three weeks. Activities directory, Tiffany Tyrell, says there is nothing like helping to provide these emotional moments for loved ones like Bob and Marilyn.

“She glows…if you didn’t see it. I know you can’t see her smile, but you can see it in here eyes. It’s a magical moment,” says Tyrell.

“It’s just a part of your life that you can’t imagine doing without and able to bring a little bit of that back into their life,” adds Conner.

Bob says he is thankful for those chances that he can embrace his wife.

“It’s something that everyone should be able to get in and do. It’s really nice and they do an awful good job here,” says Bob.