Companionship in our Luff Home in Essex

Amazingly,  the Health Editor of a national newspaper has suggested that the way care homes are protecting their elderly residents is a form of abuse, and a cruelty from which many will die.  His article is a slight to carers all over the country.

His headline reads:

‘Revealed to our health editor in hundreds of heartbreaking emails and phone calls, the appalling tragedy of the elderly and vulnerable kept apart from their loved ones for months by the Covid rules. And now there’s no end in sight…’

Deaths from Covid are currently lower in care homes than they are for older people in their own homes, because carers work hard to keep them safe.  In our Pilgrim Homes at the moment, more carers (who come in from the community each day)  test positive than residents.  This tells us that the protective measures we are taking are working.

In his article, Barney Calman says, ‘a husband who once spent hours every evening with his wife, reduced to gazing at her through a locked glass window once a week for 15 minutes. Children, forced to watch as their once-happy parents wither and waste away, starved of any contact, comfort or love.’  What tosh!  Window visits are arranged through open windows, with frames deep cleaned between each visit.  And a family member can visit by arrangement.  We don’t see once-happy parents wasting away, starved of contact or love.  In fact they usually receive more in residential care than those in their own homes – many of whom live very solitary, lonely lives.

Read  how we are keeping relatives connected and residents safe here at the  While you’re there, read the other stories of life in our care homes, with photographs of residents and activities.  Also, skim through our Homes’ and Housing individual Facebook pages.  They’ll tell you of  ‘trips’ to the local hostelry in parts of the home transformed for the day;  flights via Google Earth to children’s homes in other countries, residents communicating happily using iPads, the ingenious ideas of our activities coordinators, and the lengths that carers go to to help family members visit safely.

Calman compares being in a care home like being in a prison.  Really?  Does he realise that thousands of older people would give their eye teeth to be able to live in a care home?  That care homes in the UK would be full  if only more social funding were available?  That people do so well in care homes they live longer than their prognoses?  Does he know more than the experts and scientists whose advice is aimed at keeping the vulnerable elderly safe and alive?

He writes that “of course, those most vulnerable to Corona shouldn’t be exposed unnecessarily. But many will die as a direct result of these measures.  And it will be a horrible, drawn-out and lonely death.’  That is so clearly untrue it needs no riposte.

If care homes were to adopt the measures he is suggesting there would be a spike in cases that we saw in June when patients were discharged without testing from hospital. Then he would write an excoriating piece about how care homes’ neglect was causing extra deaths.

At the bottom of this misleading article is an invitation to get in touch and tell him if you have been barred by a care home.  I’m intend to get in touch with him and put him out of his misery by telling him the way it is – not the way he’s presented it.

Louise Morse

Louise Morse MA (CBT) is media and external relations manager for the Pilgrims’ Friend Society. She is a writer and speaker, and author of books on issues of old age, including dementia, published by Lion Monarch and SPCK. She is a cognitive behavioural therapist, and her Masters’ dissertation examined the effects of caring for a loved one with dementia on close relatives.

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