SHELBURNE, ONT. -- Less than a month after an outbreak of COVID-19 was declared over, a long-term care facility in Shelburne has found a way to help families and loved ones see each other face to face.

Last week, Dufferin Oaks had a fenced area installed free of charge by Modu-Loc Fence Rentals after a personal support worker - who works in the home - came up with the idea.

For Anne Dance, it's now allowing her to see her 93-year-old mother in person, something she hasn't been able to do since January.

"Even though it's six feet apart, just to know she's doing well and looking well and able to converse," she says, is everything.

Dance's mother has been a resident at the facility since November and since the pandemic, she's only heard her mother's voice through a screen.

"We have done Facetime and Zoom," says Dance. "And you know, phone calls, but to be able to see her in person is wonderful. "

Facility administrator, Brenda Wagner says the home oversees 160 residents and that they offered virtual visits early on in the pandemic, scheduling around 135 every week.

But Wagner says this fenced in area was something that needed to be made for the families and residents.

"They need to see each other face to face, and this has been our answer to that," explains Wagner.

In the week since the fencing area was installed, she says 50 families have visited in person.

Wagner says the visiting area is helping to boost some much-needed morale during such a challenging time.

"The happiness, the smiles, residents now looking forward now to their next visit, she says.  "The response from the staff has been great, they've noticed changes as well. It's been very positive."

The face-to-face visits are a major step forward for a facility that declared an outbreak in March after four residents and six staff members tested positive for COVID. Tragically, two residents lost their lives to the virus.

"I would have loved to have hugged her and given her a kiss," says Dance. "But we blow air kisses, so that's the next best thing."