Borough MPs demand action over care home visits
Borough MPs have joined forces to call on the government to find a way for care home residents to be visited by their loved ones.
Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue and Leigh MP James Grundy say they have been inundated by families concerned about being unable to visit their relatives for months and are becoming increasingly concerned they won’t be able to see them over Christmas.
They have recounted their struggles of communicating with blind or deaf family members through a window, telephone or computer screen and tragically others have lost a loved one without the opportunity to say their final goodbyes because of the severe restrictions. Both MPs have now written a letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock calling for action that will allow visits to care homes safely throughout the remainder of the Covid-19 crisis.
Their calls come after health secretary Mr Hancock said the government aims to have coronavirus testing available to allow visits in all care homes in England by Christmas. Mr Hancock said he was “working closely with the social care sector” to try to make it happen.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said the Government hopes to allow friends and family to visit those living in care homes in the lead up to Christmas, but it depends on the success of 20 care home visiting pilots implemented this week.
He said: “There’s 400,000 people in care homes in England, so that’s a big task in itself, but as many of those people as possible, we hope to be able to have family members visiting them in the lead up to Christmas.”
Ms Fovargue called for visitors to care homes to be at the front of the line to get tested and said that urgent and necessary funding was needed to deliver this.
She said: “I know the pain and sadness that restricting visits to care homes has inflicted, not only for residents but their spouses, children, grandchildren and other family members.
“In some cases it is too late for families who have seen a loved one pass away so the promise of visitors to care homes being at the front of the line to get tested must fast become a reality with the urgent and necessary funding to deliver it.
“As a society we must recognise the terrible toll on the mental health of people who haven’t been able to be with their loved ones in their last months, weeks and days, and who will never be able to get that precious time back.”
Mr Grundy also called for a long-term solution to the problem which he said had been going on long
He said: “Over the course of the pandemic, I have received messages from people who have loved ones currently residing in care homes, detailing the devastating struggles that they have faced throughout this crisis.
“Some have shared their struggles of communicating and others have sadly experienced the loss of a loved one without the opportunity to say their final goodbyes.
“Whilst I commend the efforts of all care home staff who have done all they can to protect their residents from this virus,
“I don’t think anyone expected that, seven months later, we would still be facing this crisis and care home residents were still unable to have visitors.
“Now that we have learned more about the virus, and developed safety mechanisms such as social distancing and mask wearing to keep the virus at bay, I think it is only right that the Government now urgently focuses its efforts to find a long-term solution to enable people to visit loved ones in care homes safely, especially as we draw ever closer towards the festive period.”