West End star leads call for families to be allowed to visit relatives in Shotley Peninsula care homes

  Posted: 01.02.21 at 10:15 by Derek Davis

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Star of stage and screen Ruthie Henshall has made a passionate plea for families to be allowed to visit relatives in care homes and has called for emergency legislation to be passed enshrining their rights in law.

Ruthie, whose mother Gloria is resident at a care home on the Shotley peninsula, told BBC Breakfast how she had not been near her mum for more than year now after three lockdowns.

West End musical star Ruthie, who appeared in 'I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here...' last year, this morning outlined how Gloria was walking and talking before first lockdown but after being confined to her room on her own she couldn't walk or talk and her food has to be mushed up.

The rules state only one family member can visit, with tight restrictions in place so Ruth's sister Abi has spent time with Gloria each week.

But Ruthie has not been able to visit and said: "Every other member of society has the right to a support bubble. If we could take the rapid test, wear PPE, temperature checks and they have had the vaccine then we could go in.

"We need to pass some sort of law, like there is in Canada, that enshrines our rights as family carers
for me to be able to go into the care home and be with my mother.

Ruthie's parents Gloria Henshall with husband David who passed away last year

"These people in care homes are dying of loneliness, they are dying of isolation. We have to weigh up the risk with the reward it is unacceptable and unbearable for the residents and for the families."

"It is a post code lottery for care homes, some are allowed in some of us aren't.

"One member is allowed in, one member, and it has to be the same one, behind a Perspex screen in the case of my mother's home. I can't get to see her."

Ruthie's parents lived in Stutton before her father, the highly respected newspaper editor and journalist " target="_blank">David Hanshall, passed away last April, while her sister still lives and works locally,

Some care homes on the peninsula opened special outdoor facilities allowing family visits between lockdowns, but a second and then third lockdown meant safety restriction were put back in place.

Visiting area at Spring Lodge open between lockdowns

The star of huge West End hits, such as Chicago, made no criticism of the care or carers at home her mother is in and accepted why some restrictions were inlace but felt they were too severe.

"I understand the safety aspect, said Ruthie. "But I'm told it will be three months before my mothers gets the second vaccine.

"Let us talk about the rapid test, PPE, we are not talking about letting anybody and everybody everyone in, we are talking about two people for two hours a week, they need to be touched it is unacceptable and family rights are being ignored.

"I'm working with Rights for Residents and we are absolutely heartbroken. I understand the toll this is taking onto many people, I get that, but our families are dying of loneliness and there is a solution it just takes a bit of organising.

"We want emergency legislation that enshrines our rights as family carers.

Care homes now waiting for second vaccines

"One of the carers told me she goes to seven homes a day, then goes to Asda to do her family shop, and then to her husband who has been at work all day - what is going on?

"This is not OK, we need to make sure these beautiful people... This is my mummy and I can't see her, the risk is minimal now, we can do this, it has to happen."

Members of the Rights for Residents movement has called on the Government to find a more humane and nuanced solution that balances the risk of contracting Covid-19 against the devastating mental and physical deterioration they are witnessing in loved ones.

The Government claim all care home residents have been offered vaccinations and Social Care minister Helen Whately today said: “We do want to be able to enable indoor visiting to happen again, for people to hold hands and hug and those things,” Whately continued.

“Obviously at the moment it’s too soon we’ve had care home residents just vaccinated we know it takes time to build up immunity and we also know we have high rates of Covid in the wider community.

“So we can’t say it’s okay to open up yet. I’m saying to care homes please still use the PPE keep doing all the testing that they’re doing.

“We still have to keep being vigilant we’ve just got to give it a little bit more time.”

*Tell Nub News your experience of visiting relatives in care homes

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