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A personal experience of having someone in a Care Home in 2020

Smiling disabled senior man and caring nurse

I am having a cold drink with a friend this morning (too hot for coffee) and telling her about an ex client of mine who is now in a Care Home as he needs 24 hour care. I say how sad it is that he only gets to see a relative for 15 minutes once a month in the gardens.

My friend Sue agrees that it isindeed shocking and sad, and then says something that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up…….she hasn’t been with her mother since she went into a Care Home 2 weeks BEFORE lockdown. That was early March and here we are in August. As her eyes fill up she says she has seen her mother twice through a closed window. Sue says she looked happy enough but her mother asked when she was coming to visit properly. Sadly Sue’s mum has fallen twice in the Care Home and been taken to hospital as the first one broke her hip. Sue could not visit her in hospital.

Sue was supposed to be spending time with her mother this week……but the Care Home staff had phoned her to advise against it. Can you believe their reasoning was that it might ‘destabilise’ her mother after all this time? They had said that the meeting was initially to take place outside, 2 metres apart and with full PPE on, but they felt now that it might cause Sue’s Mum to become agitated and fall again. Also, during the meeting there would have been a staff member there in case that had happened. Sue felt this was a bit unnerving and would have stopped her talking freely anyway. So, after this devastating information the staff member put the ball back in Sue’s court and said it was her choice. Well, I think they had put so much pressure on her it wasn’t really her choice and was ‘passing the buck’ so they could say that the family had decided not to visit. Sue even asked them outright “Would you prefer it if I didn’t come?” to which, I gather, there was a muffled response.

Sue is now sitting in front of me looking devastated at the look of horror on my face (I couldn’t hide it) and seems smaller and more reflective. She now firmly believes that she waved goodbye to her mother in March and even if she saw her now, would probably be a stranger to her because of the Alzheimers.

“I can’t fault how the Care Home’s looked after Mum” she says and tells me that initially the staff were cleaning for 7 hours a day. This apparently has gone down to 4.

What really doesn’t help is the fact that William and Kate visited a Care Home this week, when families are being discouraged. Even when visits are taking place…..only one member of the family is allowed to go. And this family member must not change from one visit to the next. How cruel for families to have to decide who that will, and will NOT be? And yet, William and Kate went in together.

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