Please let me see my family before it's too late!
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Three weeks ago my mum stuttered the words "I'll never smile again". Three weeks later she doesn't even know who I am. In another three 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 six 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're reduced to seeing her through a window which she finds confusing and extremely distressing.
We looked forward to the easing of lock down and a well needed reunion with our lovely mum. Unfortunately for us and many other families however, the Government continue to enforce overly restrictive and inhumane visiting conditions on care homes, leaving mum and thousands more confused, lonely and with no end in sight. Mum's physical and mental well being have deteriorated rapidly - she is now a shadow of her former self.
The best the Government has offered relatives is a 30 minute outdoor garden visit once a week, which is simply unacceptable. 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.
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 9th July Matt Hancock said that he could see how granting relatives key worker status - with access to tests - would be the answer to unlocking the doors to care homes. We're still waiting - and tragically it's already too late for many who've spent their final months, weeks and hours alone.
The Alzheimer's Society and Dementia UK also advised the Government in July that action was needed to address the "hidden catastrophe" still happening in care homes and warned of the dangers to mental and physical health if the harsh visiting restrictions aren't lifted.
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:
- Grant key worker status to relatives with access to the same testing regime as care staff
- End the unnecessary 30 minute restriction on visits and allow indoor visits to resume
- End the unfair restriction which limits visits to one family member only
- Support care providers with all of the resources needed to make this happen
- Identify a more humane solution that balances the risk of contracting Covid-19 against the devastating deterioration we're witnessing in the mental and physical health of our loved ones
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!
This clip echoes the distress and anxiety shared by many in the UK: Our BBC News Story
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