West End Actress Ruthie Henshall has said it is still a “postcode lottery” if families can see their loved ones in care homes.
The government announced earlier this week that residents leaving their home to go for a walk or to visit a loved one’s garden will no longer have to isolate for two weeks on their return.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) removed the requirement for outdoor, “low risk” visits after being threatened with legal action by the charity John’s Campaign.
However, Ms Henshall said this does not go far enough and relatives of care home residents should have essential caregiver status by law, which would allow them to visit their loved ones in the case of another Covid outbreak.
Appearing via a remote television interview, Ms Henshall said: “As an essential carer, I go straight into her room, I’ve had the test, there are enough things to put in place now.
“I’m going straight into my mother’s room, I don’t see anybody else, don’t interact with anybody else.
“Whereas a paid carer is going into everybody’s room, they are going home to their husband, their children are coming home from school, from work.
“And she needs touch. She can’t speak, she can’t walk. She has to be fed; her food has to be mashed up. What does she have left but touch, love?
“And we all know having been starved of human affection, human touch, for the past year, we know how important that is.”
“We need to stop this postcode lottery that is going on with the care homes. People aren’t following the guidance so it needs to be law.”
Ms Henshall also described her mother before lockdown and how she has deteriorated since. “She was walking and talking, I had a phone conversation with her the day my father died, she was very aware.
“Four months later which we understood we had to keep them safe. She was in her room 24/7 on her own with an occasional visit from a carer. She has stopped talking, she can’t walk any more, her food has to be mushed up and her drinks have to be thickened. Now that happened in four months. You would expect some kind of deterioration but not like that.
“When I went to see her again, the care home manager said, ‘Oh my goodness the light is back on in her eyes.’”
Naddra Ahmmed, the Chair of the National Care Association, also appeared on the TV interview and said that the well-being of care home residents was at the centre of everything that they do.
She said: ‘We do follow the guidance give to us, and if you read the guidance, it is very clear, that it rests on the shoulders of the provider to ensure all the safety mechanisms that need to be in place before they facilitate any visits.
‘And I think most providers are trying to do that as far as they possibly can.’