Worthing woman’s distress at care home visit restrictions

Like so many people whose loved ones live in care homes, Worthing resident Louise Yeo had been ‘ecstatic’ to learn that visits would be permitted once more from March 8.

Louise Yeo with her parents, Dennis and Nina
Louise Yeo with her parents, Dennis and Nina

She was looking forward to seeing her 89-year-old father Dennis, who has dementia, at Croft Meadow Care Home in Steyning.

The 41-year-old had seen him just once since September – on the day her mother died at the same care home in January.

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But when she tried to arrange her visit she was told that, due to a positive virus test at the home, visitors would not be allowed in until March 17.

The dates was further pushed back to March 24 following another positive test at the home.

The care home said Public Health Guidelines state there should be a 28-day lockdown from the occurrence of a virus outbreak to ensure the wellbeing of residents and employees alike.

Miss Yeo said she felt she was being punished by the ‘cruel’ policy.

“It’s unfair,” she said. “My dad has had no one, literally no one, since my mum died.”

Her mother Nina lost her battle with Motor Neurone Disease on January 24, at the age of 73. Miss Yeo had not seen her in person since October.

Unfortunately three days before Nina’s funeral, Dennis tested positive for Covid amid an outbreak at the care home, which meant he was unable to attend in person as planned – despite showing no symptoms and having had the vaccine.

Miss Yeo said: “It was heartbreaking for us as we all wanted to hug my dad, and be there for him.”

Since her mother died, Miss Yeo said her father had been ‘declining’ and she is desperate to see him as soon as possible.

“My mum died alone. I don’t want that to happen with my dad,” she said. “I’m so scared I’m going to get that phonecall, and he is going to think he has been abandoned. That’s the biggest worry for me.

“It’s so horrible, and very distressing,”

Measures should be introduced so that visits could take despite the 28-day lockdown, she said.

“Even if I could see my dad outside in the garden,” she said. “Even if that was for 15 minutes, as least I would be able to speak to him.

“It’s for his mental health, as well as my own mental health.”

She said it was especially difficult considering her father, who is hard of hearing, is unable to use a phone or tablet and gets confused by Facetime.

Martin Vanhinsbergh, regional operational director at Shaw Healthcare, which runs Croft Meadow Care Home, said: “Firstly, I would like to offer my sincere condolences for the personal loss that the family has suffered.

“Visiting at Croft Meadow has been restricted because the Public Health Guidelines state that there should be a 28-day lockdown from the occurrence of a COVID-19 outbreak to ensure the wellbeing of residents and employees alike, as opposed to the 8th March that the Government announcement suggested if there were no such restrictions.

“We are working hard to resume visits as soon as possible and making fantastic progress in terms of getting everybody vaccinated.

“We would like nothing more than for visiting to resume in a safe and effective way.

“I would also like to thank residents and their loved ones for their continued understanding, support and patience.”