Houston-area couple creates pandemic-safe ‘hugging booth’ for seniors to connect with loved ones

Ok, we know what you’re thinking–“hugging booth in the pandemic…how could this ever be safe?”

Before you get too far along that line of thinking, the hugging booth that a Houston-area couple created is pandemic-safe and has proven to be a new way for seniors in one Woodlands assisted living community to connect to their loved ones.

“They’re able to get birthday hugs,” Amber Crenshaw said. “Just tears of joy…just smiles, that’s what I’ve seen. Also for family members.  You see a decline right now with the residents and the family members, almost like a depression because they’re not able to touch and to be involved with each other. So this booth has been the best scenario for right now.”

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Steve and Amber Crenshaw own Handle With Care and work with Assisted Living by Unlimited Care Cottages. The creative couple came up with the idea after family contact was limited due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the owner of Unlimited Care Cottages, Buck Buckholtz, loved the idea.

“Basically we put a hugging booth inside a door,” Crenshaw said. “It allows family members to hug and talk.”

The innovative booth is designed with a slab of plexiglass with holes for the arms and specialty sleeves.  Family members are able to just walk up and give somebody a hug who’s inside the booth, by sticking arms in the specialty sleeves and protected holes.  Crenshaw said the booths are fully sanitized.

“I had one senior come up to me saying, ‘What you’re doing is such a good thing.'” Crenshaw said.  “They just smile and cry. It brings the tears out on both sides. The staff is able to provide this for them.  It’s been a real blessing.”

Crenshaw said she’s already seeing a demand in the hugging booths.

“We’ve already had several requests for orders. Someone’s interested in us making 35,” Crenshaw said. “As word gets out, the orders are coming in.”

Crenshaw said she’s just happy to bring a little uplift and hope into the residents’ lives.

“I would say this–it brings back hope and joy,” Crenshaw said.  “I just feel like there’s been so difficult for seniors with the quarantine and regulations. We’re doing this to spread joy and hope. That’s why we’re doing it.”




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