Paul’s Story

Sep 24, 2020 | Stories

My dad’s name is Leslie Storey, he turns 85 in October. Before entering a care home he and mum (Mary) lived together in a bungalow just outside Blackpool. Mum’s health deteriorated 15 years ago and dad became her main carer.

Dad managed well for a few years but it became increasingly tough for him and we spent more and more time visiting and supporting him. Sadly, he was then diagnosed with Alzheimer’s but still managed to care for mum exceedingly well despite his own declining health.

In 2016 mum had a catastrophic fall and Social Services advised that she be placed in full time residential care. Due to dad’s condition they were classed as co-dependent and it was recommended they be placed in the same care home. After much searching we found a suitable Home closer to where we lived as it was vital that we could see them on a regular basis.

They settled in fairly quickly and my sister and I were frequent visitors to the Home. Mum was confined to a wheelchair by now and didn’t really like going out, but we managed it a few times. Dad on the other hand loved getting out and about. We used to take him out for lunch, which he enjoyed enormously. A couple of times a week I’d take him to a local coffee shop where he could enjoy watching the world go by. Occasionally, I would take him out to meet up with his old Fire Brigade colleagues who’d come back into his life since moving back to Merseyside and he would enjoy a pint and reminiscing with them.

Four years later, mum and dad were settled and happy in the care home, and had just celebrated their diamond (60th) wedding anniversary in December 2019. A week before, the care home went into lock down in March, we were preparing for mum’s 80th birthday which also fell on Mother’s Day this year. We were allowed to deliver mum’s cards, gifts and birthday cake on her Birthday so her proposed party could go ahead, albeit without any of her family there. We did manage a video call with them that day and it was nice to see they’d had a good time and that mum had enjoyed her birthday. We have not received any further video calls since that day.

Sadly, in April, mum passed away after contracting Covid-19 in the care home. I saw her briefly in the A&E department of the local hospital the day she was rushed in but my sister never saw her again after her last visit in March. Mum survived another three days in hospital and died without any visits from her loved ones, an incredibly sad time in our lives. I was forced to demand access to the care home in order to break the news to my dad as I couldn’t allow him to hear this news from someone other than family.

It became apparent that getting my dad to the funeral would be difficult due to Covid restrictions and the care home insisted he’d be quarantined for 14 days if he attended. We didn’t want this. He was quarantined after mum contracted the virus and his health deteriorated rapidly and this time the effects of isolating him would be much worse given the fact that he was grieving having lost the love of his life and without the support of his family.

As it happened he developed a cough shortly before the funeral. He was tested a few times for the virus but as his results weren’t back before the funeral he couldn’t attend.

Due to dad’s Alzheimer’s he couldn’t really remember if he’d been to the funeral or not. He looks forward to the day he can visit the garden of remembrance where mum’s ashes were scattered and really wants to do that soon.

We were allowed to deliver ‘goodie bags’ of sweets, newspapers etc to him and whenever possible would try to have a window visit with him which he enjoyed. The care staff were very accommodating of this. However, management took a dim view, classing window visits as outdoor visits and restricting them to one thirty minute visit per week by one family member only. As my sister is the nominated visitor I haven’t seen my dad for eight weeks whereas before I would see him two to three times a week.

Even the brief 30 minute visits were often cancelled at short notice or simply not made available, with the Manager blaming staff shortages. On the rare occasion we do get to see him dad says he feels like a prisoner in the Home and can’t understand why we won’t take him out.

We feel devastated and upset – knowing that he feels abandoned by his family and loved ones at a time when he’s needed us most while grieving for our mum.

As the care home is located in Merseyside all visits have now been banned as new local restrictions have been enforced. A member of staff has recently tested positive for Covid-19 which is the second time this has happened since the pandemic struck. Both of these cases occurred during a period when no visits were allowed which shows that it is staff now bringing the virus into the home and not relatives who’ve been effectively locked out.

We’re absolutely sick with worry about my dad. We get no updates from the care home as to how he’s doing or what’s happening in there. I continually register my concerns and complaints to the Management but get nowhere. It seems they’re happy with the council imposed restrictions as they can hide behind them without answering to anyone!

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