It’s the best Christmas gift for many families this year - the government’s announcement that Covid regulations in care homes would be relaxed so they could have more visits to their loved ones. Visitors will need to be tested negative beforehand, but there are hopes that they will be able to use the new, faster tests that will give a result in 35 minutes.
It is not because of a publicity campaign run by a national newspaper that declares it has won ‘care home hugs for Christmas.’ It’s because, as a government minister noted, banning Christmas was never going to work.
The government says it’s possible because of there is now more of a new, faster testing technology. Care homes are going to be given over a million rapid tests and free personal protective equipment (PPE), helping them to ‘maintain a between infection control and the vital benefits of visiting to the health and wellbeing of residents.’ But even Santa will have to wear a facemask.
It was inevitable that care home restrictions would follow the general relaxing of rules all over the country, so a timely media ‘campaign’ had a predictable success. The sad thing is that it probably did more harm than good. It portrayed care home managers as hard-hearted jailers, sadistically keeping families apart and inflicting ‘punitive’ solitary confinement on its residents. The editor clearly doesn’t have a clue about life in a care home. A particularly lurid story was of a resident’s fear that, after a hospital outpatient’s appointment she would be quarantined in her room, ‘the door locked. Alone.’ Outrageously inaccurate! Residents are never locked in their rooms. There are strict laws about the ‘deprivation of liberty’. It would not only be unlawful but abhorrent to carers. Some residents are so frail they are bed-bound and in their rooms most of the time, but their room doors are open with carers and other home staff coming in and out, and they’re kept engaged with activities they enjoy. Irene, 86, who was totally bed-bound, knitted blankets for a Romanian orphanage and poppies to sell for the Royal British Legion (she knitted and sold £70-worth!).
When he announced the easing of lock-down measures, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, ‘I can't say that Christmas will be normal this year - but in a period of adversity, time spent with loved ones is even more precious for people of all faiths and none.’ The time relatives spent with frail, elderly loved ones is always precious and making it possible, even to a limited extent, has come at a huge cost to care homes in practical and emotional terms. The ‘campaigning’ press showed no awareness of how fond carers are of their residents, and the lengths they go to to keep them happy.
Everyone has found it very hard. Recently we sent a survey to relatives of those who live with us, asking how well they thought we managed the crisis. The survey showed that most thought ‘excellent’ and ‘very good.’ One recipient wrote, ‘As a family we have been deeply thankful for all the love and care that was shown by all the staff and Care Workers... May the Lord continue to bless all your endeavours to provide this vital service...’
We value your prayers that everyone may see the value of care homes in the UK.
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