The daughter of a care home resident has said she believes reopening homes for physical visits would save her mother’s life.
During lockdown, visits to care homes have been restricted to outdoor settings or through substantial screens, but even that has not been possible for everyone.
Sharon Clay, 65, from Hornchurch in east London, said she has not been allowed to see her 91-year-old mother in person since November.
She said that being able to see her again would “save my sanity, and it will save mum’s life”.
“I’m watching my mum deteriorate beyond belief and it’s scary now,” she told the PA news agency.
“My brother was supposed to have spoken to her on the phone today, but she’s not woken up. She doesn’t want to wake up.”
Ms Clay, who is working as a volunteer at vaccine centres, is part of the Rights for Residents Facebook group, which is pushing for relatives of care home residents to be able to “safely visit”.
Care minister Helen Whately on Thursday indicated rules on care home visits could be eased in the coming months, with the possibility of relatives holding hands mooted even before a second vaccine dose.
June Clay caught coronavirus at Easter last year, before returning to her care home.
Sharon Clay said she used to see her mother every day and spend “all day with her”, but added: “I’ve probably had no more than seven hours of her company in a year.”
She said: “I know my mum, she was just so low and so depressed. Bless her, she knows it upsets me, she’s trying her hardest not to cry, but she just keeps saying, ‘I can’t stand this any more, why don’t they just give me something and let me die?’
“It breaks my heart, there’s nothing I can do to make her life any better.
“When family members used to go in, it helped with conversations, because some of the residents can’t talk very well. But when other family members are there, everybody joins in. It’s their entertainment really.”
Ms Clay said the Government must make visitation a “legal right” or risk some care homes ignoring guidance.
“Some care homes obviously have caring managers,” she said. “We can’t label them all the same. I know some care homes are doing everything humanly possible.
“Those that aren’t, I think, will still stick two fingers up at whatever the Government turn around and say.
“Unless they make it a legal right, I know in mum’s case her nursing home are going to think, ‘It’s going to cost us 60p to get another plastic apron for a visitor, we’re not going to do it’.”