Joanne wants to see dementia patient Martin on Christmas Day but his care home has told her visits aren’t allowed – and the same thing happened to her last year
A loving daughter is devastated after being barred from visiting her father in his care home for the SECOND Christmas.
Joanne Jannaway, 37, is just one of thousands of relatives refused access to loved ones during the festive season in a heartbreaking repeat of last year’s bans.
Although ministers have told providers to allow visits, campaigners say scores of homes have adopted extra restrictions amid fears over the Omicron Covid strain and crippling staff shortages.
But Joanne said she has not been told why she cannot see her dad on Christmas Day at his West Sussex care facility.
Martin, 66, who was diagnosed with advanced dementia six years ago, has lost all speech during his time in care and cannot eat or drink unaided.
Joanne, of Chichester, West Sussex, said: “I received an email a week-and-a-half ago about visitors not being allowed to enter if they are not vaccinated.
“But a paragraph at the end said they cannot facilitate visits at Christmas. I have no explanation as to why they can’t facilitate visits, whether it’s down to staffing or Covid. All I know it will be the second year running I haven’t seen Dad at Christmas.”
The mum-of-two added: “It’s devastating. I’ve always spent special occasions with my parents, as have my children. To not have him with us on Christmas Day again is heartbreaking.
“It’s all well and good the Government putting out guidance but unless it’s [made] legal we still don’t have a leg to stand on. If a care home says tough luck, what can we do to fight that?”
Christmas visits were crushed last year after the Government let homes set their own rules, leading to a patchwork of different regulations across the UK. This year official guidance calls on providers to allow visits wherever possible. But there is no obligation on homes to let people see their loved ones.
Campaign group Rights For Residents has been inundated with messages from distraught families who have been told Christmas visits are banned again.
One group supporter with an 86-year-old father said: “I felt sick that it is the second Christmas we will miss. I haven’t told my dad yet and I’m dreading doing so, he will be devastated.”
Croston Park care home in Croston, Lancs, has stopped visits for 11 days over Christmas and New Year. Only loved ones designated as essential care givers can see family members for limited 40-minute visits.
Rights For Residents co-founder Diane Mayhew said: “As everyone else sits down to their Christmas dinner with their family this year, spare a thought for many care home residents for whom this essential part of Christmas has been denied.”
Care homes are cautious about Omicron, especially after No10’s failure to protect residents at the start of the pandemic. Some 25,000 frail people were sent from hospitals to care homes without being tested for Covid, contributing to at least 20,000 unnecessary deaths.
Mike Padgham, who runs four St Cecilia homes in North Yorkshire and is chairman of the Independent Care Group, said: “As we see the emergence of a new Covid-19 variant we need Government support, particularly with the ongoing staffing crisis.”
A shortage of 120,000 workers in adult social care was made worse by the Government insisting on sacking another 60,000 last month for refusing Covid jabs.
The 90-bed Close care home in Burcot, Oxfordshire, initially barred visits this Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Year’s Day because of staff problems. The home reversed its stance after being approached by our sister paper the Sunday Mirror.
Managers said: “We have reallocated staff and changed schedules to facilitate what our residents and stakeholders have requested.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.