A loving son is planning to take his 77-year-old mum home after visiting restrictions at her care home left her feeling life “wasn’t worth living” if she couldn’t hug her family.
Tom Wright, 45, said he plans to move his mum Maggie back to his home with his family as he fears there is a risk of her “dying of a broken heart” if she continues where she is.
The pensioner, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, has lived at the care home in Leeds, West Yorks., for 12 years but has become increasingly lonely due to Covid-19 restrictions.
The devoted son said he hopes to take her out of the home early next month to stay with him, his wife Steph and children Daisy, 11, and Archie, nine.
The veterinarian has backed a campaign for the government to ease the blanket ban on care home visiting which he says caused his mum’s mental health to suffer significantly.
Maggie, a grandmother-of-six, had to isolate for a few weeks after she was diagnosed with coronavirus in early May.
Tom and his two sisters have only been able to visit her sparingly due to restrictions, and they last saw Maggie during an outdoor window visit in mid-September.
Since then, window visits have been cancelled altogether.
But while he says front line carers have done their best, Maggie’s mental health has deteriorated to the extent she said her life “wasn’t worth living”.
Tom, from Nantwich, Cheshire, said: “The front line carers have been doing their best to make her as happy as she can be and the activities coordinator has been really good.
“But mum lives to see her kids and grandkids and just wants what every human being wants, a hug and a cuddle and to hold their hand.
“Her mental health has significantly suffered to the extent that she has said her life isn’t worth living because she is living in a box.
“She lives to see her family. She used to go out three times a week and she would see members of the family or a friend four or five times a week.
“That is down to nothing now and they were the only things that gave her pleasure in life, everything else is just existing.”
Maggie said the pandemic has been incredibly hard for her as she was only able to see her family a handful of times in over six months.
Maggie said: “I was already self isolating from March and then I got Covid, and it was an extremely lonely time.
“I didn’t see my family from March all the way till May and was on my own in my room.
“This year has been so hard and not being able to see or hug my children and grandchildren has left me feeling like life isn’t worth living.”
Tom said his family is supporting campaign group www.rightsforresidents.co.uk and is backing a petition calling for the government to ease care home visiting restrictions.
The petition, which can be found on change.org, has been signed by more than 162,000 people.
He said that vulnerable care home residents need their relatives more than ever during these difficult times.
Dad-of-two Tom said: “We want some degree of testing introduced for care home visitors, probably a single family member incorporated into the testing scene [at the care home].
“Why couldn’t a relative, who is clearly going to take all precautions, be like a key worker.
“That physical contact from a relative is fundamental to the wellbeing of care home residents.
“These poor residents, particularly the ones with dementia, need love and they need their relatives with them now.
“The current government policy protects life, but it doesn’t protect quality of life and it doesn’t take the individual’s choices into account.
“Whilst we may stop them from getting coronavirus, we don’t stop them dying from broken hearts.
“Nobody is asking mum what she wants to do, what risk is she going to take.”
Maggie is very excited about moving back home with Tom and his family, which he said was the “right thing to do”.
But he added while they are fortunate to have the room to house their mother, other families may not have the same luxury.
Tom said: “Mum is very excited about coming to live with us. It is with trepidation, because it is a complete unknown.
“She was in the home for a reason, we are not carers, we are family. However, we absolutely feel as though it’s the right thing to do.
“We want to make whatever life mum has left as good as it can be.
“We are fortunate that we have the room to be able to do this and she will have full NHS continuing health care.”
The petition, which is calling for the government to ease care home visiting restrictions and enable family members to have access to regular testing, can be found at https://www.change.org/p/please-let-me-see-my-family-before-it-s-too-late
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We recognise how important it is to allow care home residents to safely meet their loved ones and the challenges visiting restrictions pose for people with dementia, learning disabilities, autistic adults and their family and friends in particular.”
“Our priority remains the prevention of infection in care homes to protect staff and residents but we are considering plans to allow specific family and friends to visit care homes safely.
“We will set out further details in due course.”