Some can see elderly relatives but others STILL locked out

The cruel care lottery: While some families can now see elderly loved ones after Covid visiting restrictions were lifted, others are STILL locked out a year into the pandemic

  • Campaigners claim that a cruel lottery has developed for visits to care homes
  • Thousands of people were prevented from visiting loved ones on Mother’s Day
  • Guidance on March 8 said all residents are allowed indoor visits from one person

Relatives are still being denied reunions with loved ones as care homes defy new guidance allowing indoor visits.

Campaigners say a cruel lottery has developed as some families experience joyous meetings, while others can only watch through a window.

On Sunday, thousands of relatives were prevented from having the Mother’s Day reunions they had longed for.

New Government guidance came into force on March 8 stating all residents should be allowed indoor visits with one nominated friend or relative.

Relatives are still being denied reunions with loved ones as care homes defy new guidance allowing indoor visits. Campaigners say a cruel lottery has developed as some families experience joyous meetings, while others can only watch through a window (file image from November 12, 2020)

But some care home bosses claim the risk from Covid-19 remains too great – despite the fact all residents have now been vaccinated and visitors have to test negative and wear personal protective equipment. Campaigners say blanket bans remain in place, with some homes saying visits cannot resume until April 12 or that all residents must have received their second vaccine dose.

Other care providers mistakenly banned indoor visits after the Government asked an extra 1.7million people in England to shield until the end of March. This included many care home residents. Halcyon care group, which runs 13 homes, last week said indoor visits would not be permitted until at least March 31 after a ‘high percentage’ of residents were told to shield.

A letter to relatives said the ban was necessary ‘in order to protect the residents and keep them as safe as possible’.

However, Halcyon has now said it has reviewed its position after the Department of Health stressed that shielding residents should still have visitors.

Meanwhile, care providers including Barchester Healthcare, one of Britain’s biggest, did not allow indoor visits in many of its 200 homes last week – denying some the chance to spend their last Mother’s Day together. Other heartbroken families are unable to visit due to a ‘perverse and disproportionate’ rule that forces homes to shut to visitors for 28 days after a single case of Covid-19.

This lengthy isolation period is nearly three times longer than the ten days at home required for the general public if they test positive.

New Government guidance came into force on March 8 stating all residents should be allowed indoor visits with one nominated friend or relative. But some care home bosses claim the risk from Covid-19 remains too great – despite the fact all residents have now been vaccinated and visitors have to test negative and wear personal protective equipment (file image from March 1, 2021)

Caroline Abrahams, of Age UK, said: ‘From what we are seeing these last few days it seems that the happiness of some at being reunited again is mirrored by the despair of others for whom the endless wait goes on and on.

‘Sadly, at the moment there’s a real lottery when it comes to the ability of care home residents to meet a friend or relative in person as the new Government guidance permits.

‘The so-called 28-day rule is getting in the way of visiting in some care homes and we think it’s now time it was reviewed. For example, the rule applies whether there are two people or 20 people testing positive in a care home, which seems perverse and disproportionate.

‘With each passing day of isolation from family and friends, the damaging impact on the morale and happiness of older people inexorably grows.’

The Daily Mail is campaigning for an end to cruel visiting bans which were lifted briefly in December only to be reimposed during the third national lockdown.

New guidance allows residents to have indoor visits from a single nominated visitor. Other family members or friends can only visit outdoors or through a screen. Residents are also able to receive additional close contact visits from an ‘essential care giver’ who helps with support such as feeding or dressing.

Caroline Abrahams (pictured), of Age UK, said: ‘From what we are seeing these last few days it seems that the happiness of some at being reunited again is mirrored by the despair of others for whom the endless wait goes on and on’

Diane Mayhew, of campaign group Rights For Residents, said: ‘Many care homes are refusing to allow the additional support from essential care givers.

‘Most care homes seem to be giving people the absolute minimum they can get away with and are offering people a 30-minute visit under a blanket policy. We don’t think much will change unless the guidance is made mandatory or emergency legislation is introduced so that relatives get the same legal status as carers.’

Charities are also calling for the new visiting guidance to be expanded so that more than one person can see residents indoors.

Fiona Carragher, of the Alzheimer’s Society said: ‘How hard it must be to choose between daughter or son or grandchild – we hope that visits can be extended to wider families as soon as safely possible.

‘In-person visits must now be the default option for all care homes. The Government has been clear that blanket bans are unacceptable. Nearly a third of people we surveyed who lost a loved one during the pandemic felt that a lack of social contact was a significant factor in their death.

‘People in care homes do not have much time left. We cannot deny families spending final months and weeks together.

‘We’re concerned by some reports that essential family carers aren’t being allowed to give the close contact care so vital to the wellbeing of people with dementia.’

Helen Wildbore, of the Relatives and Residents Association, said: ‘We have received a flood of calls from distraught families still not able to have visits or facing blanket rules which make visits too distressing for the most vulnerable residents. We hear some homes are refusing to reopen until April 12 or when residents have their second dose of the vaccine. Too many visiting policies apply blanket rules, such as strict 30-minute visits in a dedicated visiting room, without consideration of individual needs.’

She added that when relatives have been able to visit they ‘have been disturbed by the significant weight loss, the visible pain and distress or loss of cognition’. 

REUNIONS TO MAKE YOUR HEART SOAR… BUT DESPAIR FOR MANY 

Daughters can finally hold mum’s hand again

Maureen Harvey was reunited with her daughter Karen Wells on Mother’s Day after a year of fearing they wouldn’t meet properly again.

They last saw each other for a 30-minute visit on Christmas Eve. Before that, it was February last year when Mrs Harvey, 81, moved into Dalemead Care Home in Twickenham, south-west London.

Finally, on Sunday, they were granted an indoor visit. Mrs Wells, 60, said: ‘It’s been very emotional. It was a nightmare, constantly living in fear and worry that we may not get to see her again.’

She said her mother’s dementia means she does not fully understand Covid and her mental state has ‘dramatically deteriorated’ in lockdown.

Maureen Harvey was reunited with her daughter Karen Wells on Mother’s Day after a year of fearing they wouldn’t meet properly again

‘Mum would cry every time we called and ask “why can’t you come to see me, why?” – it was unbearable,’ she added. At the Dawson Lodge home in Southampton, Lou Blow was reunited with her daughter Jennie Church in time for her 95th birthday.

Restricted to window visits, they had gone more than a year without being able to hold hands.

Mrs Blow said: ‘It was so lovely to be able to hold hands and have a face-to-face conversation. It filled my heart with so much joy.’

Mrs Church, 67, said: ‘As soon as she heard my voice, the staff said they could see her getting excited.’

At the Dawson Lodge home in Southampton, Lou Blow was reunited with her daughter Jennie Church in time for her 95th birthday

Inhumane to keep us apart after 60 years 

Raymond Frost, 80, who suffers from Parkinson’s and Lewy body dementia, has lived at the Beeston View home in Cheshire for over two years. His wife Lyn, 77, was only able to visit him in a designated room and speak from behind a screen on their diamond wedding anniversary this month

A great-grandmother who was unable to hold her husband’s hand on their 60th wedding anniversary has hit out at ‘inhumane’ care home visiting rules.

Raymond Frost, 80, who suffers from Parkinson’s and Lewy body dementia, has lived at the Beeston View home in Cheshire for over two years.

His wife Lyn, 77, was only able to visit him in a designated room and speak from behind a screen on their diamond wedding anniversary this month.

She said: ‘There was no holding hands, nothing. We weren’t allowed to touch. I just cried.

‘I’m feeling so angry. I missed his 80th birthday…and I was only granted 30 minutes in a socially-distanced pod for our anniversary.’ Mrs Frost added: ‘It’s an inhumane system.’

Care giant Barchester said: ‘The team at Beeston View has been working around the clock to get the necessary systems in place for all visitors.’ 

I’m a mother, not a ‘viral vector’ 

Ruth Adams’s son Sam is dying – but she still can’t hold his hand.

She hoped she would be able to touch him for the first time in months thanks to the new guidance.

But last week when she went to visit Sam, 34, who has Huntington’s disease, a degenerative brain disorder, she was made to sit eight feet away from him behind a Perspex screen at his home in East Sussex. Mrs Adams, 67, said: ‘I’ve watched Sam being hugged and kissed by carers, but I am sat there as his mother not able to get near him. We are seen as pariahs.

‘I am seen as a viral vector, not as a mother whose son is dying. I wasn’t even allowed to see him through a window for months.

‘I don’t just want to be able to hold his hand when he is dying, I want to give him a quality of life in his last year.’

Ruth Adams’s son Sam is dying – but she still can’t hold his hand. She hoped she would be able to touch him for the first time in months thanks to the new guidance. But last week when she went to visit Sam, 34, who has Huntington’s disease, a degenerative brain disorder, she was made to sit eight feet away from him behind a Perspex screen at his home in East Sussex

Stress gave me strokes

Peter Williamson, 87, was left crushed when the home where his wife of 61 years Valerie lives told him indoor visits were too high risk.

He believes the stress of separation has caused him to suffer two strokes.

The couple have only seen each other with a glass screen between them since she moved into the home nine months ago. Mr Williamson, from Trafford, Greater Manchester, said: ‘She finds it deeply upsetting. She thinks I don’t want to come and see her.’

Peter Williamson, 87, was left crushed when the home where his wife of 61 years Valerie lives told him indoor visits were too high risk

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