With the impact of the pandemic on care homes and the continued isolation devastating families, Thanet artist and
academic Dawn Cole tells Jodie Nesling about her mother’s bleak situation:
Family celebrations, catching up with grandchildren and an afternoon out for a cup of tea are all things Dawn Cole’s mother enjoyed while a resident at Wantsum Lodge care home in Ramsgate.
The 91-year-old received regular visits from her children and would always have a family member with her to attend medical appointments for reassurance and comfort.
But for the past few months strict Covid restrictions have meant only the same one person can visit the care home – and only for 30 minutes a week, sitting outside.
With winter approaching, this situation may become unmanageable and sadly Dawn’s mother is likely to spend Christmas without seeing her children for the first time in her life.
She said: “It’s very hard. I have four siblings, three of which live locally, and she can’t see them.
“My mum was moved to the care home two and a half years ago after suffering several falls. She didn’t want to go but we had no choice. She couldn’t care for herself and it was for safety reasons.”
Dawn adds that the care home staff have been amazing, doing their utmost to navigate these unprecedented times, but she says the impact on her mother’s mental health is becoming increasingly difficult.
She added: “I understand why the restrictions are in place and obviously I don’t want my mum to get Covid but it’s heart-breaking.
“There is no hope of it getting better so it makes me angry when people don’t follow the rules.
“They don’t think of others who have been severely impacted and that includes people at home.”
Apart from missing out on precious family time, and on the imminent arrival of two new great-grandchildren, there are other practical concerns.
Dawn said: “So many things are down to the family to consider. We would go with her to medical appointments and as family members we obviously know more about her health.”
Other distressing problems have included sourcing a wheelchair remotely, which made her mother very anxious.
Dawn says her mum is able-minded and will be fully aware that lockdown will not be over soon.
She said: “It really is a difficult time and I hope the care staff are recognised as much as the NHS. They are very much dealing with the effects continuously while trying hard not to infect anyone.”
A second round of covid restrictions have been introduced at sites across Thanet and nationally.
The shielding measures, brought in at the start of the pandemic, were eased from July but rising infection rates in September prompted a number of homes to reinstate them.
The Alzheimer’s Society and Dementia UK advised the Government in July that action was needed to address the “hidden catastrophe” happening in care homes and warned of the dangers to mental and physical health if harsh visiting restrictions aren’t lifted.