A son and a daughter advocate being able to have a “good time” with their mother in their nursing home in Suffolk.

Ann Neale, 82, has severe dementia and also suffers from Covid-19. She lives at Mildenhall Lodge, operated by Care UK.

Her son John Neale, 55, who lives in the Birmingham area, and daughter Jane Barber, who lives in Moulton, West Suffolk, say they have hardly seen their mother in almost a year other than a couple of garden visits from Mrs. Hairdresser in summer.

A recent photo of Ann Neale, taken while visiting when she was in poor health
– Photo credit: John Neale

Mr Neale said, “The house has been locked almost permanently since last March. I want to visit my mother before it’s too late to spend time with her.”

Both brother and sister emphasized that they were very impressed with the standard of care in the house. Mr Neale said, “We chose it when we couldn’t take care of Mom because of its excellent reputation.”

Ms. Barber said, “The supervisors are all brilliant and they really do their best.”

However, both would like to be able to visit more often, which in their opinion would make a big difference to their mother’s quality of life.

Ann Neale with daughter Jane Barber

Ann Neale with daughter Jane Barber
– Photo credit: Jane Barber

Mr Neale said the retired teacher tested positive for Covid-19 just days before being vaccinated in mid-January. Since then, she has needed oxygen therapy in late January and early February, and both times her children have been allowed to visit her.

However, after her condition improved each time, he said they were told they could not return for further visits while she was doing well. “I want to spend time with my mother when she’s not just lying in bed,” he said.

“They allowed us to visit again over the weekend but now we’ve been told it is and we don’t know when we’ll be able to see them again.

“My mother’s dementia is so much worse than when I last had time with her.

“It was the most terrible year, not being able to spend time with her, not being able to work with her in the garden, not being able to enjoy her.”

John Neale advocates spending time with his mother

John Neale advocates spending time with his mother
– Photo credit: John Neale

Although the visit restrictions are intended to stop the spread of the coronavirus, Mr Neale said he couldn’t see how dangerous it was to other residents, all of whom were permanently in their rooms. He also said Ms. Neale was in a corridor where the other residents were also Covid-positive.

He said, “When I get home, I’ll do a side flow test that will give a good indication of whether one is contagious. I wear the PPE provided by the house, which I think is enough to protect myself. I would even be ready to do so.” provide my own PPE or pay for it if that was the problem. “

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

Ms. Barber added that “window visits” would not be good for her mother as she would not understand what was happening.

Ann Neale with a cup of tea and a cake

Ann Neale’s son and daughter want to visit her in their nursing home
– Photo credit: John Neale

Phillip Steyn, Regional Director of Care UK, said: “We are very aware of how families are currently missing their loved ones in nursing homes and we can’t wait for this virus to be brought under control and lockdown restrictions lifted.

“Our first priority must be to minimize the risk of infection. This includes following guidelines from government and local health teams.

“Currently the guidance only allows for exceptional visits within the home in certain situations. Our home teams are constantly reviewing these situations and involving residents and relatives as much as possible in individual circumstances.

“We have already invested many thousands of pounds in creating Covid-safe visitor suites that will be operational in all 10 of our Suffolk homes and we hope that after the quarantine period, families of Mildenhall residents will be able to see their loved ones in those suites . They are used in many other locations where the house is not in the breakout status. “