Covid-19: “We can’t even hug on care home visits”

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Rapid testing could see care home visits resume / Pic @Mufid Manjnun

Lockdown has put extra pressure on families with loved ones in care homes.

With around 18,000 confirmed or suspected Covid-19 related deaths in UK care homes since March, visits are currently prohibited for fear of the virus spreading among vulnerable residents.

This has been particularly difficult for families who have been seperated for large periods over the past eight months.

Shirley Hodgson, 72, is currently unable to see her husband Colin who has Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s. Colin, 75, lives in a care home in Southport and this is the first time the couple have been apart in 55 years.

Shirley said: “I can’t even begin to describe how much this virus has affected my family and I.

“Being apart from my husband for the first time since I was 19 is something I never expected to happen. I’ve always been the one to look after him but I definitely feel like he’s in the best place for him.”

There are currently around 850,000 people suffering with dementia in the UK. Not being able to receive care home visits from family members can be especially confusing for those suffering with the degenerative illness.

Shirley said: “Once lockdown was lifted at the start of July, I was able to visit Colin in the home but we had to keep a safe distance.

“It wasn’t really like properly seeing him because we couldn’t even hug each other! But now I’m not even allowed to see him at all.”

Interacting through social media and calls is the only form of contact many people have had with their relatives during lockdown. This is something Colin had to learn to do to speak with his family.

Shirley explained: “Colin doesn’t really know what’s going on with regards to the virus but if it wasn’t for video calls I don’t really know if he would cope.

“He constantly video calls me, my children and grandchildren. It’s quite sweet really, he actually thinks we’re in the room with him when we’re on calls and checks if we get home OK and things like that.

“I just hope that someone finds a solution so that I can see my husband again.”

Shirley and other families were handed a welcome boost this week that they may be able to resume visits for Christmas with the inroduction of rapid Covid tests in care homes.

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock said: “When this disease gets into our homes, we know that people in care homes are particularly vulnerable to it.

“This rollout will be a challenge. We have got to make sure the right rules and protocols are in place so that testing keeps people safe.”




About Ellie Dowd, JMU Journalism