UK Vaccine ‘Milestone’ Should Trigger Restart of Care Home Visits Say Dementia Advocacy Groups

UK Vaccine ‘Milestone’ Should Trigger Restart of Care Home Visits Say Dementia Advocacy Groups
A care home resident talks with a carer outside a care home in Scunthorpe, northern England, on May 4, 2020. (Lindsey Parnaby/AFP via Getty Images)
Mary Clark

Visits to loved ones living in care homes should re-commence before residents have their second dose of a vaccine against the CCP virus, dementia support groups say.

“We feel that now the first vaccination has been given, then we very quickly need to get back to meaningful visits,” said Julia Jones, co-founder of John’s Campaign, which advocates for people with dementia.

Amid the pandemic, many elderly care home residents have died having not had “meaningful communication with their relatives” for almost a year in some cases, Jones told The Epoch Times.

“If a husband wants to come and hold his wife’s hand, he should be facilitated to do so, not wait another three months,” she said.

‘Huge Milestone Moment’

Jones’s comments follow Care Minister Helen Whatley’s remarks on BBC Radio 4’s “Today” program on Monday that reaching the initial jabs target for most care home residents marked a “huge milestone moment” in the UK’s vaccine rollout.
The milestone has been reached just a month after all indoor close-contact care home visits were banned in England as part of the country’s third national lockdown to slow the spread of the (Chinese Communist Party) CCP virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus.

But the government has no plans for residents to have their second vaccine dose before the target time of 12 weeks, Whatley said.

While welcoming the vaccine rollout to care homes, Fiona Carragher, research director at the Alzheimer’s Society, echoed Jones’s call for visiting to quickly restart.

“It’s great to see the milestone met to protect care home residents, and we applaud all those who have worked tirelessly to meet it,” she said in a statement. “The most pressing question now is how and when can care homes restart safe, meaningful visits.”

Calling for a “concrete plan” to be put in place to reunite families, she said, “Another 12-week wait is unacceptable for people dying of loneliness.”

“Combined with PPE and testing, isn’t one jab enough? If not, what else needs to be in place?” she asked.

Policy Reversal

Whatley acknowledged the difficulties caused to families by the care home visiting restrictions.

“That’s why we took steps in the autumn to really support care homes to open up,” she said in the Radio 4 interview.

But with the advent of the new more-transmissible variant of the virus in late 2020, those plans had to be put on hold.

“The medical advice I was given was that we couldn’t continue that visiting as we were doing then,” she said.

The government is currently working on enabling visiting to restart, “because I know just how important it is for the health and well-being of those living in care homes and their family who want to visit,” she added.

Not ‘Able to Hold His Hand’

Jones said the country needs to quickly get back to that pre-Christmas situation where extra testing and personal protective equipment were provided to care homes, enabling them to “facilitate meaningful visits.”

“There’s absolutely no reason not to get back to that now,” she said.

“Just think if it was one’s husband and you hadn’t been able to hold his hand since last March, and you’re not being given any light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.

“And you know that you’re not going to have him much longer … and all you’re told is, when he’s dying, you can come in. Well, you want to see him when he’s living, not when he’s dying.”