Flower arranging in the sunshine, bingo and reading letters of hope from schoolchildren are just some of the ways elderly residents across Shropshire have been coping through the ongoing coronavirus epidemic.

Coverage Care Services, the county’s largest independent care provider, looks after more than 800 elderly residents at its 14 care homes.

Barclay Gardens resident William Littley enjoys spending time piecing together a jigsaw.

With the UK in lockdown and stricter rules on visiting at all its locations, staff and the wider community have come together to raise the spirits of residents.

Homes have received free deliveries of flowers and chocolates from local supermarkets, schoolchildren have sent letters and colourful drawings and staff have ramped up their daily programme of activities to keep residents active and upbeat.

Barclay Gardens resident Winifred Herring enjoys a spot of painting.

Chief Executive David Coull said: “It’s tough times for everybody at the moment and we are all facing unprecedented circumstances but it’s been truly heartwarming to see communities coming together.

“Our homes have been inundated with generous gifts from local shops and people, youngsters included, have rallied to brighten up residents with their lovely pieces of artwork and letters of kindness.

“Our staff as always have been wonderful and have been entertaining residents around the clock with a range of activities from balloon tennis to bingo and everything in between.

“We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has continued to support our homes at such a difficult time. It means the world to residents and our staff.”

Bosses at Coverage Care Services, a not-for-profit organisation, were among the first to take action against the ongoing COVID-19 threat when it introduced measures to actively discourage all non-essential visitors.

Other care homes across the country were forced to take similar steps when the Government released its official guidance more than a week later.

Family and friends of residents as well as non-urgent visitors are among those who have been strongly advised not to visit Coverage Care’s homes.

Services remain open for admissions and visits from health and social care professionals as well as urgent suppliers.

Infection control measures and enhanced staff training are all now in place, while steps to manage staffing, including any new employees, in the safest possible way are being prepared in the event of a more widespread outbreak.