Wednesday, 25 Nov 2020

Care home resident, 104, fights back tears as she begs to see family again

Heartbreaking footage shows the moment a 104-year-old care home resident begged to see her family again, saying the lack of contact is ‘cutting me to bits’.

Mary Fowler has barely seen her children for seven months after strict rules were implemented in care homes in response to the coronavirus crisis.

Fighting back tears in an emotional video message this week, she warned she ‘must see my kids’ as ‘time is getting on for me’.

The Scottish pensioner, who lives in a Fife care home, said: ‘I’m very well looked after here. I want my family though.

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‘This is my right, please help. It’s cutting me to bits. I must see my kids. Time is getting on for me.

‘I must see my children and make things like they used to be. Please help me, help me. Please, please help.’

The great-grandma has only been able to have brief window visits from one of her children since the pandemic hit in March.

She spoke out back in September, saying Covid-19 restrictions made her feel like she was living in ‘a prison’.

Cathie Russell, who runs the Care Homes Relatives Scotland Campaign group, posted the new clip on Twitter this week, saying Mary was ‘at the end of her tether’.

She wrote: ‘Mary Fowler, aged 104, and locked in a care home since lockdown in March, is at the end of her tether. Mary is desperate to see her great-grandchildren.’

Previous Government advice meant just one person was able to visit their loved one in care homes for no longer than 30 minutes indoors.

On October 12, indoor visits were extended from 30 minutes to four hours, with up to six people from two households able to visit for one hour outdoors.

However, the new guidance is only followed once a home is satisfied the new rules can be implemented safely.

Care Home Relatives Scotland said many residents are still being restricted to short patio or window visits, despite the new rules.

Organiser Cathie Russell said: ‘It doesn’t seem to have made much difference. Some care home groups say they’re not moving to the new guidance.’

She has called on care home visitors to be granted ‘essential caregiver’ status, with access to rapid testing and infection control training.

Nicole Sturgeon said she had not seen footage of Mrs Fowler at her coronavirus briefing on Thursday – but admitted making decisions on care home visits had been ‘heartbreakingly difficult’.

She said: ‘To Mary, I’m heart sorry for the position you’re in and the position your family’s in.

‘That’s replicated many, many, many times over across the country. But we have to keep people in care homes as safe as possible.

‘The new guidance is not a panacea and it could never be in the current context. But it is about trying to get back to some sort of normality for people for whom visits are not just visits, they are a key part of their quality of life and care.

‘Testing of designated visitors going into care homes, those who regularly go, is one of the priorities of the extension of testing into other asymptomatic groups.’

Chief nursing officer Fiona McQueen said she does not want to see a return of the ‘blunt instrument’ at the beginning of the pandemic when all care home visiting was restricted, as this had an impact on residents’ wellbeing.

She said: ‘Just being with them, and being with them for an extended period of time, helps them. We know that that is now as essential as protecting people from Covid-19.

‘Care home owners are working tirelessly to put the right systems in place to protect the residents and we are working hard.

‘We know that testing is part of the solution, part of that equation that balances the life of people so they don’t have Covid with that psychological and emotional wellbeing that we’re seeing as of equal value.’

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