CARE HOMES: Fresh plan needed for compassionate care home visits 

Willie Rennie has today called on the Scottish Government to deliver a fresh plan for visiting.

By Democrat reporter

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has today called on the Scottish Government to deliver a fresh plan to enable “compassionate” care home visits in the face of horrifying accounts from families.

The warnings were collected by campaign group Care Home Relatives Scotland and passed to Mr Rennie.

A survey undertaken by the group warns:

  • Less than one in ten respondents think visiting arrangements have improved since new guidance was issued by the Scottish Government on 12th October; 
  • Only 1 in 4 respondents feel that they are kept up to date with their loved one’s health. 

Accounts submitted to the survey include residents with no glasses or hearing aids available since July, six week waits for medication, a lack of access to GPs and a failure to access specialists for conditions such as leukaemia.

Willie Rennie said:  “When we look back at the impact of this pandemic there will be no more tragic tale than that of care homes.

“People are witnessing their loved ones experiencing weight loss, depression, worsening dementia and mobility issues as a result of being confined to their care homes.

“For many the rare visits that are taking place are through windows or at a distance, depriving them of the chance to touch and comfort.

“The visiting improvements promised by the Health Secretary [Jeane Freeman] haven’t materialised in countless homes.

“Care home staff are doing their best to allow precious family time, but they’re hamstrung by the continuing failure to provide what is really needed: regular testing for the families of care home residents.

“People are deteriorating fast. This can’t wait.

“I am asking the Scottish Government to come up with a compassionate solution to enable regular indoor visits and urgent reform of the designated visitor rules to allow people to spend time safely with those closest to them.”

Responses to a survey by the Care Home Relatives Scotland survey can be found here: 

  • “They are not prisoners! They deserve the love and care from their loved ones. So sad they are locked up. As my mother had asked for a gun and let this end for her she thinks she has no life.”
  • “It has been the worst eight months of my life – I have always been a happy person but the horror and powerless of this had destroyed me yet every nurse I know reckons it would be perfectly possible for to be with my mother using normal infection control measures and PPE. They are treating this like we live in the Middle Ages.”
  • “At 98 I feel so sad to not be able to spend time with her. My Mum was a very social person prior to lockdown now she looks so sad. The visits are like a prison visit in an empty room through glass.” 
  • “My sister is a community staff nurse and is now signed off her work due do how this situation is affecting her mental health, she as a nurse can hold someone else’s mother’s hand but not her own”
  • “Every conversation mum tells me how she wants to die and how she’ll commit suicide.”
  • “[I]wanted to see our son through a closed window to wish him a happy 60th birthday and show him the cake I’d made for him. This was refused.”
  • “Have not seen my husband for almost 8 months.”
  • “My paralysed relative is room bound since February only leaving for a shower twice a week and for outside visit 30 mins once a week. Prisoners get 1 hour freedom a day.”
  • “No one will ever understand how devastating this whole experience has been unless they lived it and I hope they don’t.” 
  • “Govt not learning lessons and taking ownership causes stress.”
  • “My mum feels she would rather die”
  • “One essential visitor is not enough especially if that is elderly wife or husband who should be allowed the accompanied support of another family member.”
  • “Window visit shouting through a slight open not much use to a dementia patient who doesn’t tolerate wearing hearing aid and glasses anymore”

 

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