Ensure residents like Jean have essential family visits!
My name is Jenny and my mum Jean lived in a care home when the COVID 19 pandemic began, as she had a range of health conditions, including Alzheimer's Dementia. After the Government locked care homes down in March 2020 and all visiting was stopped, the lack of family contact left her feeling anxious, lonely and confused. We were forced to watch her fade away from the other side of a closed window and via distressing Skype calls. As a result, her physical and mental health deteriorated rapidly, and she became a shadow of her former self. This was traumatising for mum - and we spent many long months grieving for someone that was still alive.
With nowhere to turn for support, myself and my partner Diane, channelled every ounce of energy we had into joining with other affected families to raise awareness of the issue and fight for an end to the inhumane visiting rules imposed on care homes. Sadly, mum passed away in August 2021 and we continue to campaign in memory of her, and thousands of others who died, having been locked away and isolated for months on end.
In response to our Campaign, Official Government Guidance to care homes has changed many times and decision makers have been forced to acknowledge the importance of visits. All visiting restrictions on care homes were lifted by the DHSC in April 2022. They now agree that every resident should have at least one essential Care Supporter that can visit “in all circumstances”, including during a Covid outbreak.
However, many homes continue to flout official Government Guidance - as it is advisory and not law - and instead impose their own more restrictive visiting regime. Family members are not “just” visitors. No matter how wonderful care staff are, they cannot provide the emotional support that can only come from a family member or close friend. From children separated from their parents to young adults and the elderly, their distress at separation is unimaginable. Family contact should not be considered an optional extra as it's vital to dignified care.
On 12th November 2022, the Health Minister, Helen Whately, announced on the front page of the Times, that the government have listened to families and campaigners and will now bring forward legislation that will ensure vulnerable residents will have a legal right to receive visitors. We must continue our campaign though, until this promise becomes a legal reality.
WE NEED YOUR HELP TO CONTINUE THE CAMPAIGN
Rights For Residents started as a small Facebook group which we ran in our spare time. However, it quickly escalated and we were unable to manage the campaign activities in addition to working full time. In October 2020 we gave up our jobs to devote all our time to running Rights for Residents and although this decision has impacted our own financial situation, it's one we'll never regret. We gain huge personal satisfaction from seeing the difference our campaign has made to so many care home residents who are now reunited with their families.
The Rights for Residents Campaign hangs in the balance
As an independent campaign group, we're free to speak out and criticise politicians and their advisers, unlike many established charities that rely on government funding. We don’t have the luxury of a media, fundraising, lobbying, technical, admin, or website management team and everything is done by ourselves and a handful of dedicated volunteers. This means our resources are spread quite thin.
Donations cover most of the campaign and personal expenses that enable myself and Diane to work full time managing the campaign. We need your help if Rights for Residents is to continue. To date we’ve raised over £45,000, but after two and a half years, inevitably, funds are low.
If you, your family, or your loved one has benefitted from the Rights For Residents Campaign and Facebook group – please pledge a donation today. If you want Rights for Residents to continue - its future is in your hands. Even small donations are a huge help, as they all add up.
We both remain firmly committed to achieving legal change that would ensure all those in health and care settings have a legal right to at least one Care Supporter that could visit in all circumstances.
Thanks for supporting our work – we really do appreciate it
Jenny Morrison & Diane Mayhew