The care home residents who are trapped in endless Covid lockdowns

Revealed: The care home residents who are trapped in endless Covid lockdowns as normality returns for rest of us

  • More than half of care homes in parts of England have suspended family visits 
  • Some dementia sufferers living in homes have not seen loved ones this year
  • Ministers lifted a cap on visitors in January after a campaign by the Daily Mail
  • But care homes have continued to lock down if they report two or more cases

Many care home residents are trapped in ‘endless’ lockdowns due to draconian Covid guidance – despite the rest of the country opening up.

More than half of homes in parts of England have suspended family visits and some dementia sufferers have not seen loved ones since New Year.

In January, ministers lifted the long-standing cap on visitors after a campaign by the Daily Mail.

But care homes have continued to lock down under existing guidance if they have an ‘outbreak’ of two or more cases.

More than half of homes in parts of England have suspended family visits and some dementia sufferers have not seen loved ones since New Year. Pictured: Residents and care workers at Churchview Nursing Home in Liverpool watch a video of the 2021 Christmas lights switch on in Liverpool city centre

Elderly residents have been unable to see relatives for months and some people with dementia are being kept in their rooms for 24 hours a day.

Campaigners say the guidance – which is advisory – creates a postcode lottery as councils interpret it differently.

Staff are included in outbreak counts, meaning some care homes have been in lockdown for months with zero cases among residents.

Relatives demanded rules be eased so care homes can ‘keep up with the rest of society’.

Hayley Garratt, 39, from Ottershaw, Surrey, said her mother, Carole, 68, who has dementia, has been stuck in a cycle of lockdowns since moving into a care home in December. 

She added: ‘She holds on to me and says, “I don’t want you to go away”. It’s because one minute I’m there and the next I’m not.’

Around 30 per cent of care homes are currently experiencing a Covid outbreak, according to an audit of councils. 

More than half of the 286 homes in Lincolnshire are closed to visitors due to Covid outbreaks, but in Enfield, north London, only one care home has shut its doors to visitors despite eight out of 83 sites experiencing outbreaks.

Bethany Robinson says her mother Sheila Tart has no quality of life due to ‘rolling lockdowns’ at her care home

New guidance on outbreak control, which comes into force today, states that ‘some forms of visiting should continue’ if risk assessments are carried out. 

Helen Wildbore, of the Relatives & Residents Association charity, said: ‘Over two years into the pandemic and this is still no “freedom day” for people living in care.’

Diane Mayhew, of campaign group Rights for Residents, said: ‘The Health Secretary has said that we’ve got to learn to live with Covid. So why does that not apply to people unfortunate enough to live in care homes?

‘The choice of seeing their family has been taken away from them. It’s an abuse of their rights.’

A Government spokesman said: ‘Even during a Covid-19 outbreak, we are clear that every resident can continue to receive one visitor inside the care home.’

‘My mum has no quality of life’

Bethany Robinson says her mother has no quality of life due to ‘rolling lockdowns’ at her care home.

The home in Telford, Shropshire, has been free of visiting restrictions for just five weeks since October.

Mrs Robinson said the lockdowns were massively affecting the health and wellbeing of residents’.

Her mother, Sheila Tart, 72, who has vascular dementia, has hardly been able to see her close-knit family.

Her care home was in lockdown due to a Covid outbreak from October to late November. It reopened to visitors for just two weeks before restrictions were reimposed because of further cases.

It remained in lockdown until March, reopened for three weeks, then stopped visits again after two staff members tested positive. No residents have tested positive during the latest lockdown.

Mrs Robinson, 32, who works in a call centre, has been the only person able to visit her mother during the lockdowns as her essential caregiver. But she said Mrs Tart badly misses the rest of her family, particularly her grandson, whom ‘she absolutely adores’.

She added: ‘Sadly, mum hasn’t got a lot of time left. She won’t be able to take part in the activities she enjoys much longer so it’s frustrating for me to see her life at the moment as one room, one corridor and one communal lounge.

‘There’s a big difference between giving someone a long life but if that life has no quality, there is no point in that.’ 

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