Criminals have 'more freedom' than our mum in care, family say

Pip Alder

Gill, with three of her daughters and her husband on a trip out, is a resident at Mills Meadow Care Home - Credit: Pip Alder

A Suffolk woman has said prisoners have more freedoms than her mother in a care home, as strict Covid rules have seen her living in a "rolling lockdown'".

Pip Alder's 82-year-old mother has spent weeks and weeks isolated as strict care home rules mean that if two people test positive for Covid in a 14 day period the whole home goes into a lockdown.

Mills Meadow Care Home on Fore Street in Framlingham.

Mills Meadow Care Home on Fore Street in Framlingham. - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

Mrs Alder understands staff at Framlingham's Mills Meadow "do their best" and "work really hard" and her frustration is focused at the government rules which she believes do not make sense.

When a care home is put into 'outbreak mode' residents can only be visited in person by one essential caregiver.

Mrs Alder is frustrated that even if it is staff testing positive, not residents, everyone goes into lockdown and her mother is deprived of social contact.

Pip Adler

Gill led a number of Brownie and Guide groups in east Suffolk, becoming division president in 1997, and spent a decade organising charity fundraisers - Credit: Pip Adler

"If I am negative and my mother is negative why can I not see her? Where is the logic and science behind this?" Mrs Alder said.

"The staff are exhausted and demoralised by the way the government is handling this pandemic. The issue is the government guidance that they have to adhere to. The guidance doesn’t even make sense."

Pip Adler

Celebrating her 80th birthday surrounded by most of her grandchildren - Credit: Pip Adler

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The government announced that care homes could have unlimited visitors on January 31, but this can only occur when the care home isn’t in outbreak mode.

Mrs Alder continued: "Whilst the rest of society is allowed to go back to ‘normal’ this is not the case for care homes. The residents are being deprived of their basic rights.

"Convicted criminals have more rights and freedom than care home residents. Care homes were forgotten at the beginning of the pandemic and now they are subject to the strictest Covid restrictions in society. How is this fair?

Her mum Gillian Smith, who was awarded an MBE for services to guiding and community in Great Glemham in 2016, has a large family of six daughters, thirteen grandchildren and her husband.

Though only one person will be able to visit her in person for the next two weeks, as the home has gone back into outbreak mode - window and pod visits are still available.

One of Mrs Alder's main grievances with the rules are that regardless of the size of the care home or who has been infected, if two people are infected the whole home is impacted.

Pip Adler

Celebrating her MBE with all her daughters and husband in London - Credit: Pip Adler

Mrs Alder continued: "I don’t know how much longer my mum will be alive and each week that goes by without being able to see her, spend time with her or hold her hand and reassure her is heart-breaking.

"Window and pod visits are unnecessarily cruel. Seeing your mother crying and being unable to comfort her because she doesn’t understand why you can’t come into her room is devastating."

When two cases are recorded the care home reports this to public health and follows their instructions, as well as carrying out PCR testing for the whole home.

A Care UK spokesperson, who runs the home, said: “We are very mindful of just how much visits mean to residents living in our homes and their family and friends.

"I am really sorry that multiple family members have been unable to come inside recently due to people in the home testing positive for Covid.

"We have been pleased to continue to encourage visits by the designated Essential Care Giver throughout the recent outbreak and our Covid-safe visiting suite continues to be available.

“Our first priority always has to be the safety of residents so we comply with current guidance issued by both the Government and local health protection teams.  As cases in the local community drop, we hope to be able to welcome back visitors beyond the Essential Care Givers very soon.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We recognise how vital companionship is to those living in care homes, and the positive difference visits make. Thanks to the success of the vaccine programme, there is now no limit to the number of visitors to care homes.  

“Essential caregivers should always be allowed access unless they have COVID-19 and care homes need to make every effort to ensure visits take place. The Care Quality Commission has powers to take action where providers are not offering adequate access for visits.”