Please let me see my family before it's too late!

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Six weeks ago my mum stuttered the words "I'll never smile again". Six weeks later she doesn't even know who I am. In another few weeks will she still be here?

My name is Jenny. My mum Jean lives in a care home and suffers from Dementia. It's been seven long months since she was allowed any meaningful contact with her family and she must feel like a prisoner although she's committed no crime. Like many others we've been reduced to seeing her through a window which she finds confusing and extremely distressing. Now that Covid cases are rising again many Local Authorities and care homes are introducing blanket bans on visiting care homes. With no end in sight will we ever see our loved ones again?

This clip shows the awful distress of a window visit

Government guidelines encourage overly restrictive and inhumane visiting conditions on care homes, leaving mum and thousands more confused, isolated and distressed. Mum's physical and mental well being have deteriorated rapidly and she is now a shadow of her former self.

Care home residents are now the ONLY group in society enduring forced separation from their families. This is an infringement of their fundamental human right to a famiIy life. The Government has given back every other member of society the right to decide the level of risk they are prepared to accept in order to live their lives. It's been acknowledged that those previously shielding in the community suffered greatly with their mental health - as a result of isolation - and have been told they won't be asked to do this again. We demand the same rights for those living in care settings.

We're calling on the government to end this suffering with immediate effect as vulnerable elderly people continue to die in a pandemic of loneliness and isolation. On the 10th July Matt Hancock said that he really wanted to find a way to reunite families with loved ones. Eight months into the pandemic we're still waiting - and tragically it's already too late for many who've spent their final months, weeks and hours alone.

As part of a more nuanced solution - that balances a level of risk against the devastating deterioration being witnessed in our loved ones - we demand the government take the following urgent actions to ensure safe indoor visits resume:

  • Grant key worker status to relatives with access to the same testing regime as care staff
  • End the 30 minute time restriction on visits
  • Indemnify care providers against the possibility of legal action if a visitor takes the virus into the home - as they have done for the NHS
  • Support care providers with all of the resources needed to make this happen
  • Develop a detailed plan with clear guidelines to ensure care home residents are reunited with their families.

Ironically relatives are called upon to accompany loved ones from care homes to hospital and for other medical appointments and treatments but are then refused visits upon their return to the care home. The double standards are staggering. 

Politicians from ALL parties have a responsibility to prevent  these premature deaths. Don't wait till the death toll becomes too big to ignore and then call for a public inquiry. Act now, save lives and do "whatever it takes" to avoid another Tsunami of care home deaths - as people simply give up and fade away without the stimulation and comfort of family contact.

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