Heartbroken families have shared their fears that they “won’t see their loved ones alive again” without a change to care home visit laws.
Distraught loved ones, including former I’m A Celeb contestant Ruthie Henshall, warned that without regular family visits residents are “dying from loneliness” during lockdown.
It comes after MPs and Peers demanded new laws to guarantee in person visits in England’s care homes.
On Wednesday, the Joint Committee on Human Rights wrote to Matt Hancock warning people are being “denied meaningful visits” contrary to their right to family life and proposed a change in the law guaranteeing people can visit loved ones.
All face to face visits were banned during the first national lockdown in March 2020 when coronavirus swept through care homes.
Restrictions remained in place for eight months with families forced to speak to their loved ones through windows or doorways.
But the new variant – and current lockdown – mean many care homes are not allowing visits, despite the government saying the could go ahead.
Now Labour’s Liz Kendall is demanding Tory Ministers act now in order to introduce the changes before more families suffer.
And now the families of those who haven’t seen their loved ones have shared their heartbreaking stories.
Tony Claydon, 74, has been married to his wife Pauline,71, for 50 years.
She developed early-onset Alzheimers at just 58-years-old.
And for the last four years Pauline has been unable to communicate at all.
In that time Tony has visited her “virtually every day” – holding his wife’s hand and brushing her hair.
But since lockdown, he says he has felt “totally locked out”.
He said: “People with dementia you need a contact visit for it to be meaningful.
“And so it’s awful going all through this.
“I worry that I will never see my wife again until she dies.
“There is no time left.
“There is all this business about keeping her safe but I’d rather have a few months now together even if she passes away earlier.
“I’d rather that than the 3 am call, which is what normally happens, and then you either get there in time or you don’t.”
West End star Ruthie Henshall held back tears as she described how her mother Gloria “lost her husband and her family” on the same day.
Former teacher Gloria has been in Spring Lodge care home, Ipswich, for three years.
She said was “absolutely done with not having the ability to go and love my mum because the only thing she has left is touch and love.”
She said: “I spoke to my mother for the last time last April when my father died, and I had a whole conversation with her.
“And she was lucid, and four months later, after being confined to her room on her own, she can’t walk, she can’t talk, and her food has to be mashed up.
“The last time I saw her was a few months ago and she sat there saying ‘Ruthie Ruthie Ruthie I love you I love you I love you’ and I couldn’t touch her.
“And then, this time on Sunday, she didn’t even say my name.”
She said she thought her mother was “dying of loneliness and isolation”.
“And it’s awful for us, because of the grief you walk around in.
“You’re just waiting for that phone call telling you that they’ve gone and you haven’t been able to be with them and touch them.”
Brendan Black last held his wife’s hand on their 63rd wedding anniversary – which was nearly a year ago.
He said he saw her briefly before Christmas thanks to lateral flow test.
He said: “On Boxing Day I tried to get a visit with the lateral flow test but Boris had locked us down. As soon as he locked down I knew there was no way we were going to get back.
“I’ve got four daughters and they haven’t seen their mum for nearly a year. My wide has dementia and is starting to lose speech – all she says to me at the moment is “come in, come in.”
“I’ve had to cut down my window visits because it’s too upsetting for her.”
Shadow Care Minister Liz Kendall said: “How can anybody, any member of staff no matter how brilliant they are, know the songs families used to sing when you were growing up, or the places you went on holiday?
“And that’s what these people need.
She went on: “What we are saying isn’t that this is just morally wrong, but that it is clinically wrong – we need this legislation and we need it urgently.
“I’ve met with Helen Whately and said we can do this on a cross-party basis, we can do this together
“But there was no sign that she wanted to pass legislation.
“In fact, she seemed to be suggesting that families would have to wait at least until residents have had a second vaccine dose, and possibly even staff.”