Nursing and care homes: visits from family and loved ones

Completely understand that the situation in care homes is dire at present. However, difficult as it is, we need to look at ways to facilitate short periods of contact. Otherwise many older people will die, miserable and alone having never seen their family again. If they do not die from covid, then it will be due to medical conditions related to stress and bereavement. My mum is 86 in an (excellent) nursing home. Before lockdown she had some level of "cognitive impairement" This has accelerated rapidly since lockdown. She tries to be very brave but cries a lot and is very anxious. She says she can't go on without seeing my dad again, and her daughters and this breaks all of our hearts. Her voice needs to be expressed. She feels that she has "had her life" she isn't afraid of dying, she just wants to see us again even if it means getting ill. She knows that she has very good care (staff are so kind and amazing) but sometimes she feels that "she is in a prison yet has done nothing wrong"

I have a sister who lives in Denmark. Close family there are being allowed to see their loved ones outside in the garden, safely organsised and carefully managed. This decision was in part due to their very clever prime minister eventually being persuaded that this was the right thing to do by a group of eminent psychiatrists.
I appreciate that this is not the right time, but some family's do not have much time left. Please, please will you consider how this could be achieved and start planning now?

Why the contribution is important

For the mental health of both the elderly residents of care homes and their families who are denied access to them at this difficult and testing time. The pressures we all feel at the moment are exacerbated by not being able to see our loved ones. At times it feels like cruelty.

by pauline on May 06, 2020 at 08:05PM

Current Rating

Average rating: 4.9
Based on: 22 votes


  • Posted by GillHain May 06, 2020 at 21:30

    So important for mental and sometimes physical health of people with any form of dementia or nearing the end of life and some with other mental health problems or impairments.
    Important so families can come to acceptance of their love ones situations and do right by them as they understand it.
  • Posted by catmac14 May 06, 2020 at 21:51

    I completely agree with all of the above. I am in a similar situation and think the care home should at least be able to bring residents outside for family members to speak to their loved ones....., whilst being two metres apart (if the Scottish weather holds up!!)

    My mums home have had two outbreaks now of coronavirus (which must be being brought in by staff as no residents have been allowed visitors since 15th march, 7 weeks ago). My mum has advanced dementia and been in isolation in her room for at least 5 weeks now. While I understand the reasons for this, then it hasn't worked. The virus is still there and staff and residents are still struggling to get tested. I find this level of isolation totally unacceptable now and we must find a way to let residents have contact with their families again.

     I feel I pose less risk of spreading the virus as many of the carers work for several care homes. I live with one other person and am not working so I should be minimal risk in seeing mum.

    I know this isn't an easy fix, but as the original plan hasn't really worked I think we owe it to our care home residents to let them see family again as safely as possible.

  • Posted by Elena May 06, 2020 at 21:51

    If families wore gowns and masks to prevent giving the virus to someone in the home, and social distanced while visiting in an outdoor space... and if care homes could set up a schedule (patients from this wing can have visits these days of the week etc) so that not too many try to visit at the same time.. it *could* be doable.

    I understand that if one person in a care home gets the virus, it will be very difficult to contain - especially if there are any wanderers in the home who can sometimes be difficult to keep from entering other rooms.. but by the same token, many of these elderly don't have much time left and while half a year with no visits seems like nothing to the young and healthy, to them that could be all the time they have left and they shouldn't have to spend that isolated from family.
  • Posted by HealthyCitizen May 07, 2020 at 06:32

    It is important for anyone who is in their last phase of life whether due to age or health to have quality of life. This includes meaningful time with family and friends. It is imperative that this is considered.
  • Posted by jamiecuillin May 07, 2020 at 16:15

    Allow travel to care homes to see loved ones at a safe distance. My mum lives 30 mins drive away from me and I haven't been able to see her since lockdown - I would happily drive this distance if only to see her through a window for a few minutes -but understand why it isn't considered essential travel at the moment.
  • Posted by highlandgal May 08, 2020 at 14:32

    it is cruel and unnecessary to prevent people from seeing loved ones in care homes, or when they are dying. If staff can wear protection, why can't family members. Visitors could self isolate afterwards if need be.
  • Posted by rossb May 08, 2020 at 17:25

    Totally agree. The current separation is hard on care home residents and their relatives. Being unable to see their loved ones must be making life intolerable for so many care home residents; it must be taking a real toll on their mental health and, consequently, other aspects of their health. If this situation continues as it is for much longer we'll be seeing more deaths in care homes from non-covid reasons. If we're genuinely trying to save lives we have to find a way of allowing residents' relatives to visit them.
  • Posted by Emax2020 May 09, 2020 at 13:39

    Only allowing staff and essential repair access to care homes has not prevented residents in my Mums home contracting covid19. Staff have contracted the virus outside and taken it into the care home. Nine residents from the 31 have died in recent weeks seven may be virus related. In addition to this human rights mean that staff are reluctant to completely confine any of the residents who have viral symptoms and are by nature those who like to wander in and out of others rooms!
    No one knows for sure if residents and staff had the virus in early April as no one was being tested unless they were sent to hospital for some other reason...then presumably to protect the nhs a test was done. Now they would appear to have another outbreak a month later.

    If stoping relatives visiting doesn’t stop the virus there is no point to this rule. My mum who is in the later stages of dementia sits alone in her room with no visitors. This is inhumane. Prisoners at least get some outdoor time! Mums care home make no effort to get her outside. I guess they are more than busy and also their focus is on physical safety, something they have been unable to provide anyway. The guidelines need to be changed to allow family visits in some shape or form as the current situation makes no sense.
  • Posted by JRalston May 10, 2020 at 13:12

    Some adjustment of the restriction measures around care home visits by family and friends surely needs to be implemented as a priority?
    Many care homes, throughout Scotland, locked down earlier than advised for the general population. Residents have throughout the past 9/10 weeks been deprived of the physical face to face contact with their loved ones, no access to the outdoors and no communal activity. Whilst telephone communication and general use of video conferencing is no doubt a comfort for some, it does not compensate for physically seeing their loved ones in the flesh. For many, this in itself has a detrimental effect on their mental well-being, their cognitive and spatial abilities.
    Consideration should now be given to easing some of these restrictions, not least in allowing residents some limited access to close family and/or friends. Being confined to one room, day in and out, would be detrimental to anyone’s health, more so for our frail and elderly care home residents.
    I would like to see a system introduced whereby family can visit their loved ones in their care home. Obviously, safeguards would need to be in place to help protect care home residents and staff.
    Like those who have already commented here, I have noticed a sharp decline in my mother’s health – low spirit/depression, disengagement, expressions of helplessness/hopelessness.
    Surely it is possible to introduce a system that enables a family member or close friend to visit – even if only for a scheduled visit of 1hr a week on a nominated day? Ideas on how this could be done i.e. providing visitors with PPE have already been mentioned. This could be further enhanced by regular testing of visitors to ensure they are virus free before each visit. As we move towards test, trace, isolate surely this would be possible?
    I, like others who have commented, believe that it is cruel and inhumane to continue depriving care residents of the comfort and support of their loved ones. Fine for a short time but not long term. Please find a way to enable this to change soon.
Log in or register to add comments and rate ideas