Families with relatives in care homes across the country claim the homes are adopting their own “bizarre” rules amid rising Covid cases – preventing them from seeing their loved ones this Christmas
Image: Tim Merry)
Desperate families fear their loved ones will die or deteriorate if they are not allowed out of care or a visit for Christmas.
Distraught families wept as they told the Mirror how they face a second “heartbreaking” year not being able to see ailing relatives.
The Government’s guidance says residents will be allowed only three visitors and one essential care worker to visit to protect the sector from the spread of Omicron.
But it is claimed many homes are adapting their own “bizarre” rules, imposing two-week circuit breakers and banning all visits.
One son from Warrington in Cheshire claims he cannot even have a window visit, as it would be unfair on people living upstairs.
Megeary family / SWNS)
Relatives spoke of their disgust after being told gifts should be left on the doorstep and one mum was told she was not allowed to take photographs. Some have been advised they cannot enter unless they are fully vaccinated.
Terry Megeary, 74, said it will “kill” him if he is stopped from seeing his wife of 55 years, Lynne, 73, this Christmas.
The former cabinet maker and singer said: “It would be the best Christmas gift to see my wife. Christmas is here and everyone is happy, but we are not.”
His wife, a mum-of-three, was diagnosed with dementia in March 2017 and admitted to her care home in Hull last June.
Megeary family / SWNS)
Megeary family / SWNS)
Since then he has had three meetings with her in her room otherwise it has been in a pod, and he says he “cries all the time”.
“They’re very, very strict, and last week I got a new list of dos and don’ts,” he said. “I can’t see why we are not allowed in. My son’s girlfriend works in another home and people are allowed in.”
He can spend Christmas with his wife in her room but only after three negative home tests and one PCR test at the home.
His home tests were all negative but the PCR took five days and he was told it was inconclusive. He is waiting for a second test.
“If I can’t go and see her at Christmas, it will kill me,” he said.
Joy Knight, of Portishead, Somerset, said she cried when she found out she would not be able to see her husband Tom.
“He said, ‘Do you know I’m 81 and I don’t know how long I’ve got’,” she told BBC Points West. “If you gave me a choice to have a year less of my life, or see all of my family this Christmas safely, I’d rather have a year less of my life.’
“He cried and he’s an ex-police officer. It broke my heart,” she said. “This isn’t really living. It’s so cruel.”
The past two years during the pandemic had been “unbearable” for them.
She added: “I understood the rules at the beginning, but I don’t understand them now.”
Denise Charlesworth-Smith, 52, who lives near Brandon, Suffolk, told how her 91-year-old mother had to choose between her son and daughter as her Essential Care Giver.
“She broke down, she could not make a decision,” she said. “It’s so upsetting, at her age she should have whoever she wants to visit her.”
Denise said they were told this week about the need for a PCR test if you are to be an ECG.
“I’ve not had time to get a test and I might not get to see my mum on Christmas Day.
“It seems some homes are adapting rules to suit them. My husband was allowed to see his mother last Monday in a home three miles away without having tests.”
She added: “In November they went into a mini lockdown. It ended up with me standing outside looking at her inside, like something in a zoo. They don’t realise the pain it’s caused.”
Judith Townend, 60, who lives near Chester, had hoped to spend the day with her 91-year-old mother-in-law but they have been told only one person with ECG status will be able to have visits in her room.
“I’ve emailed to say this is their rules not Government guidelines,” she said. “My partner will have to go alone on Christmas Day.
“My brother-in-law and his wife travelled from Scotland last weekend and could only have 45 minutes in the lobby. It’s like they have no rights.”
Ruth Adams, 67, of the People’s Care Watchdog, said: “It’s been horrendous. A lot of homes have shut their doors because they say they’ve had an outbreak. It’s wicked and it breaks my heart. They’ve made up rules despite the clear guidance.”
Many relatives were worried about speaking out in fear of their relatives being kicked out of the home.
But one said she was furious her mum’s care home had extended a week-long lockdown until January 3.
She said: “It’s beyond heartbreaking. Mum has dementia and thinks we’ve abandoned her. It’s awful hearing her crying and begging us to see her.”
Figures suggest more than six in 10 care home staff in England have not received a booster jab, despite the ramping up of the vaccine rollout.
According to NHS England, 37.6% of staff in homes for older residents and 33.5% in homes for younger adults had received a booster as of December 19. This leaves more than 340,000 staff who have not been recorded as having had their booster.
Minister for Care Gillian Keegan urged care staff “to come forward.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.