Care home visits may be allowed after Ruthie Henshall broadcast

Ruthie Henshall, London, Photo Rick Morris Pushinsky.

Ruthie Henshall has campaigned to change the law regarding family visits to close relatives in care homes after her mother went downhill during lockdown 

Health minister Matt Hancock is considering whether banning visits to elderly relatives in care homes should be made illegal following Ruthie Henshall raising the issue on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Ruthie Henshall, whose mother, Gloria suffers from dementia and is in a care home, has been unable to have a face-to-face visit for the past four months because of Covid restrictions.

She says that she is heartened that Matt Hancock is considering legislation that will allow all residents the right to receive indoor visits from a close relative.

Gloria Henshall laughing

Ruthie's mother, Gloria Henshall, before lockdown. She was lively and engaged with the world around her. After lockdown Ruthie says it is hard to get her to move or to talk. - Credit: Ruthie Henshall

Ruthie said: “I thought long and hard about speaking out but I was so cross that families were being torn apart and older people were being shut away and forgotten that I felt I had to do something. If you have a profile, if you have a platform, you should try and do something to make a difference.

“I understand you have to manage the risk but the vaccine is being rolled out and there’s plenty you can do to minimise the risk.

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"I’m filming Doctors at the moment and everyday we have temperature checks, we do same-day testing, then there’s PPE, washing hands.

"You can do all this and this would allow families to have much needed contact with their loved ones which would stop or at least slow the decline of so many people.

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“If you are locking people away for weeks, months at a time then it does nobody any good at all. We know that we have a limited time left with our parents and older family members and we want to make those times the best we possibly can – we don’t want them mentally dying because they think the world has forgotten them or we just don’t care.

“I am hoping that Matt Hancock will look at the facts and make the right decision and enshrine in law the rights of families to visit their loved ones in care homes and bring a bit of joy and comfort into all our lives.”

She said that at the moment the rules and regulations regarding visits vary from care home to care home. She wants the rights of families to be made law so that everyone is treated the same.

“We just want to hold our mums and dads and be proper carers. My mum now only responds to touch. She just wants to be held and we want to give her the love and support she deserves.”

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