To stay safe, the home’s residents had given up the physical therapy sessions, the visits, the Sundays when relatives might take them out for a walk or a gelato. Four-person dining tables had long ago been pared down to two.
The plexiglass, at last, was a way for the residents to be more social. Facilities from Barcelona to Florida had been deploying comparable devices, sometimes with a looser plastic sheeting. In the days before the holidays, Villa del Sole started filling out a schedule for the hug room, calling up relatives and arranging times when they would show up.
“The fact of holding the hand of a loved one means so much,” Del Bufalo said. “It’s not as if they hadn’t seen one other at a distance. But it’s one thing to see, another to touch.”