Sheffield families ‘torture’ and distress over lack of care home visits during pandemic
Families have shared distressing stories of not being able to see loved ones in care homes.
Watchdog Healthwatch Sheffield said the lack of visits had a significant impact on the mental and physical health of both residents and families.
It heard from 23 people about 18 different care homes and nearly half had not been able to visit relatives during November. One had not been able to visit since March.
One person said of their relative: “They look like a different person, the physical difference is frightening. They can no longer seemingly use cutlery, don’t wear false teeth and the weight loss and greying skin is harrowing to see.”
Another said: “My nan has stated she wishes she was dead. She doesn’t feel that she can wait any longer for her family to see her. We would visit every day and help care for her.
"Her mental health does pick up when she is stimulated but lack of stimulation from family has resulted in severe depression anxiety and suicidal thoughts.”
Two people described not being able to visit as ‘torture’, one said they could not sleep with worry and another said their dad was depressed because he felt abandoned.
One relative added: “On the last occasion I visited mum, around two months ago, the experience was so horrendous, I only stayed 10 minutes.
"The supervising carer was extremely hostile and excessively authoritative. I can’t imagine any prison visit more distressing and disturbing.”
Judy Robinson, chairman of Healthwatch, told a council meeting: “I know there’s been a lot of difficulty about the guidance with changes of tiers but some things really stand out.
“Only five relatives received regular updates, 11 had none at all and others had little bits intermittently.
“The gist of this is the importance of communication and how isolated those carers felt, that need for a link was really vital and too often it wasn’t happening.
“It’s that nuance of what people need and how painful this period has been that we really need to reflect on.
"It’s been hard for care homes but communication made a huge difference.”
In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.