'Let us spend quality time with Mum' - care home plea by son and daughter

Ann Neale's son and daughter want to be able to spend quality time with her at her care home

Ann Neale's son and daughter want to be able to spend quality time with her at her care home - Credit: John Neale

A son and daughter are pleading to be allowed to spend "quality time" with their mum in her Suffolk care home.

Ann Neale, 82, has severe dementia and has also been suffering from Covid-19. She is a resident at Mildenhall Lodge, which is operated by Care UK.

Her son, John Neale, 55, who lives in the Birmingham area,  and daughter, Jane Barber, who lives in Moulton in West Suffolk, say they have hardly seen their mum for nearly a year, apart from a couple of garden visits by Mrs Barber during the summer.

A recent photograph of Ann Neale taken during a visit while she was in poor health

A recent photograph of Ann Neale taken during a visit while she was in poor health - Credit: John Neale

Mr Neale said: "The home has been in almost permanent lockdown since last March. I want to visit my mum before it is too late, to spend quality time with her."

Both brother and sister stressed they were very impressed by the home's standard of care. Mr Neale said: "We chose it when we could no longer look after Mum because of its outstanding reputation."

Mrs Barber said: "The carers are all brilliant,  and they really, really, are doing their best in there."

However, they both want to be able to visit more often, which they feel would make a big difference to their mum's quality of life.  

Ann Neale with daughter Jane Barber

Ann Neale with daughter Jane Barber - Credit: Jane Barber

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Mr Neale said the retired teacher  had tested positive for Covid-19 just a couple of days before she was vaccinated in mid-January. She has since needed oxygen therapy in late January and again in early February, and on both occasions her children were allowed to visit. 

However,  after her condition improved each time, he said they were told they could not return for further visits while she was so well. "I want to spend time with my mum when she is not simply lying unresponsive in bed," he said.

"They allowed us to visit again over the weekend, but now we have been told that's it, and we don't know when we will be able to see her again.

"My mum’s dementia is so much worse than when I last was able to spend time with her.

"It has been the most awful year, not being able to spend time with her, not being able to garden with her in the home garden, not being able to enjoy her." 

John Neale is pleading to be allowed to spend quality time with his mother

John Neale is pleading to be allowed to spend quality time with his mother - Credit: John Neale

Although the restrictions on visits are designed to stop the spread of coronavirus, Mr Neale said he could not see how he was a hazard to other residents, who were all permanently in their rooms. He also said Mrs Neale was in a corridor where the other residents were also Covid-positive.  

He said: "I take a lateral flow test on arrival at the home which is good at indicating whether one is contagious. I wear the PPE provided by the home, which is I guess sufficient to keep me safe. I would even be willing to provide my own PPE or pay for it if this was the problem."

The brother and sister both said it made a big difference to their mother when they could visit, as she recognised their voices and sometimes knew them, and ate and drank better when they were there.

Mrs Barber added that "window visits" would be no good for her mother as she wouldn't understand what was happening.

Ann Neale with a cup of tea and a cake

Ann Neale's son and daughter want to be able to visit her at her care home - Credit: John Neale

Care UK’s Regional Director Phillip Steyn said: “We are very mindful of how families are missing their loved ones in care homes at the moment and we cannot wait until this virus is brought under control and lockdown restrictions are lifted. 

“Our first priority has to be minimising the risk of infection, and this includes following the guidance issued by the government and local public health teams.

"Currently, the guidance only allows exceptional visits inside the home in specific situations. Our home teams keep these situations under constant review, involving residents and relatives as much as possible in individual circumstances.

“We have already invested many thousands of pounds in creating Covid-safe visiting suites ready for use in all 10 of our Suffolk homes and, as soon as the quarantine period has passed, we hope families of Mildenhall residents will be able to see their loved ones in these suites. They are in use in many other places where the home is not in outbreak status.”




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