A man has slammed ‘inhumane’ care home staff after he was refused to see his dying mother while she was still able to recognise him.
Pat, 89, an army officer’s widow originally from the Wirral and now a resident at Mildenhall Lodge Care Home in Suffolk, is suffering from advanced dementia and was classed last week by her GP and the hospital as requiring end-of-life care due to renal failure.
Speaking exclusively to FEMAIL, her daughter-in-law Jill Collins, 58, from Chippenham, who is married to Nick, 61, said: ‘Basically she is dying and we may have hours or, at best, a couple of weeks left with her.’
However, the couple aren’t with her – because Jill claims that for the last nine months care home managers have continuously denied them any visits.
‘They told us that, because of the pandemic, Nick would only be allowed in when they think she is in the last 48 hours of her life,’ Jill explained. ‘She will, at this point, be unresponsive and in a coma, thus denying her only son any opportunity to spend some time with her while she still knows who he is.’
After Nick launched a social media campaign, he was granted a 30-minute visit with his mother on Sunday, but said it was too late and she didn’t seem to know he was there, let alone recognise him.
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Jill Collins, 58, from Chippenham, encouraged social media users to apply pressure to Mildenhall Lodge Care Home in Suffolk, when they were refusing permission for her husband Nick, 61, to visit his mother Pat (pictured)
Daughter-in-law Jill said Pat, who is a great grandmother, was the only resident in the care home to test positive for covid-19. Pictured: Jill and Nick
Jill and Nick claimed they were denied visits to the care home for the last nine months, despite Pat requiring end of life care due to renal failure. Pictured: Couple’s post on Facebook
When Jill first posted about her mother-in-law Pat’s dire situation in a care home, she had such a huge response, she realised she wasn’t alone.
‘The situation is so cruel it’s beyond words,’ she said. ‘Since putting a post on social media, it seems that my husband Nick isn’t the only one going through this.’
‘Matt Hancock – who happens to be Pat’s MP – keeps talking about care homes putting policies and procedures in place to allow visitors but the reality is that is not happening and for Nick it may be too little too late.’
Jill – a former NHS healthcare manager – went on to say how they are in a ‘very distressing situation – one which many other families are also going through.’
‘Like so many other people who have relatives in care homes, my husband has had no physical contact with his mum for nine months,’ she continued. ‘It’s been a very upsetting time for us all.’
Since 89-year-old grandmother and great grandmother Pat had a positive PCR test result and a visit to hospital after an assault by another resident, she’s been on end of life care.
Jill explained the care home would go on lock down for 28 days every time a resident or staff member had a ‘symptom’ of Covid-19. Pictured: Nick and Pat
Jill said they’ve made a formal complaint after claiming Pat (pictured) was assaulted five weeks ago and they’re concerned a cover up could be taking place
‘It’s strange,’ said Jill. ‘Because Pat was the only resident in the home to test positive. That doesn’t make any sense.’
‘How was she the only person to be infected? How did she get infected? Someone must have passed it on to her and as none of the other residents have been outside the home for the best part of a year, the carrier can only have been one of the care home workers.’
Former Metropolitan police officer Nick, was allowed two socially distanced visits back in June but nothing since.
‘Each 30-minute visit was under a gazebo in the care home garden,’ explained Nick. ‘It was so hot. Mum was fully conversant and delighted to see me, as I was her. She was very happy and chatty.’
Since Nick’s brother died 24 years ago, Nick became Pat’s only child.
‘She was totally reliant on Nick,’ said Jill. ‘She totally adored him.’
What are the rules on visiting care homes?
From December 2, regulations stated that visiting should be supported and enabled wherever it is possible to do so safely, in line with government guidance.
All care homes – regardless of Tier – and except in the event of an active outbreak – should seek to enable:
- Indoor visits where the visitor has been tested and returned a negative result
- Below outdoor visiting and ‘screened’ visits
Care home managers are best placed to decide how visits should happen in their own setting in a way that meets the needs of their residents both individually and collectively.
In all cases it is essential that visiting happens within a wider care home environment of robust Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) measures, including ensuring that visitors follow (and are supported to follow) good practice with social distancing, hand hygiene and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) use.
However, the care home manager explained to the couple why there could be no further visits.
‘The home’s policy was to go into full lockdown,’ explained Jill. ‘That meant no visits from anyone at all. The staff and residents were tested regularly but, even when all the tests came back negative, the home still went into lockdown.
‘If anyone had so much as sniffle, they’d lock down for 28 days. Each time we thought there was hope of a visit, a member of staff or resident would get a ‘symptom’ of Covid, get tested, get a negative result, but would still shut down again. It was never-ending. That’s why there have been no visits allowed since June.’
Jill wonders how mum-in-law Pat was the only person in the care home to test positive for Covid 19.
‘My point here is the only people going into the home are staff so, in fact, they are the ones transmitting it,’ she claimed. ‘We worry about a cover up. We’ve made a formal complaint due to Pat being assaulted five weeks ago by another resident.
‘That’s under investigation but we’re not really focusing on that at the moment. All we want now is for Nick to be with his mum during her final days or weeks.’
Nick and Jill filmed a video for YouTube to raise awareness about the care home’s refusal to permit visits. Pictured: Nick and Pat
Speaking in the video, Nick revealed he hasn’t held his mother’s hand or hugged her since the March lockdown. Pictured: Nick and Pat
In utter desperation, the couple put out a video on YouTube. Standing at the door of Mildenhall Lodge (a care home run by Care UK), a clearly distraught Nick can be heard saying: ‘The last time I saw my mum and held her hand and hugged her goodbye was in March 2020 before lockdown and had two socially distanced visits in June prior to the second lockdown.’
At this point, wife Jill, who’s behind the camera, adds: ‘The advice on Gov.co.uk is that – and I quote – ‘visiting is a central part of care home life and it is crucially important of or maintaining health and well-being and quality of life for residents.
‘Care homes should find the right balance between these benefits versus the risk of transmission of Covid 19.’ Matt Hancock has been very vocal about care homes opening their doors. It seems this isn’t happening.’
Nick explained his mother has been given end of life care because there’s nothing clinical the medics can do to help her. Pictured: Nick and Pat
Nick goes on to say that just over a month ago his mother was admitted to West Suffolk Hospital with symptoms of Covid, a chest infection, severe dehydration and oral thrush.
Last week, she was released from the hospital back to the care home with end of life care. She’s not accepting fluids and food and the consultant has advised Nick that there’s nothing clinical they can do now to help her.
‘She’s back in the home now, on end of life care,’ continues Nick, his voice wavering, ‘and all medicines have been withdrawn… I’ve been told she’s going to suffer from renal failure, lapse into a coma and eventually die. Consultants say this could take place within days or weeks.’
Nick said it’s ‘inhumane’ for the care home to restrict visits while his mother is still able to remember who he is. Pictured: Pat and Nick with their family
Jill and Nick were permitted a 30-minute visit on Sunday December 6th, following exposure on social media (pictured)
Addressing the management at the home, Nick then pleads: ‘Mildenhall Lodge – let me see my mother. She’s gradually losing consciousness. She knows me, she recognises me, she recognises my voice.
‘You’ve told me that you’ll let me see her within 48 hours of her death. She’d be in a coma long before then.
‘Just please… let me see her… let me have one final conversation where she can still see me and recognise me. It’s inhumane… Just show some compassion, some humility, and let us have what we want for our loved ones.’
On Sunday December 6th, allegedly due to mounting pressure from Jill and Nick (who run their own First Aid training company) and exposure on social media, the care home manager called Nick to allow him a quick 30-minute visit.
Jill said they won’t be removing their YouTube video despite the video because they want the care home to change their procedures. Pictured: Pat and Nick
‘Pressure from negative publicity was the driving force behind the change of heart,’ said Jill. ‘I’ve also had a comment asking me to remove the YouTube video. The comment has now been deleted.
‘I’m guessing it’s someone connected to the home. I have no intention of removing the video. People need to know this is how they behave. It’s wrong and cruel.’
Nick, who worked as a police officer for 30 years, said of the Sunday visit: ‘Sadly, it was too late. My mum didn’t recognise me at all. I’m not even sure she knew I was there. Had I been allowed a visit earlier, this wouldn’t have been the case.
‘I’ve been deprived of having quality time with my mum at the end of her life. This is so wrong. I am devastated. This is not how it should be.’
Jill added: ‘We’re hoping that getting our story out there just might make the care homes change their procedures and allow people to spend time with their loved ones before there is no time left.’
A Care UK spokesperson said: ‘Firstly, we would like to say our thoughts are with Mr Collins and his family at this difficult time. Our team are working tirelessly to keep his mother comfortable and we were very glad to host the recent visit.
‘Our first priority is always the safety and wellbeing of all the residents in our homes. Like all providers, we have to strike the difficult balance between hosting such visits and minimising the chance of someone inadvertently bringing the infection into the home.
‘We have, since the start of the pandemic hosted hundreds of visits for family members in cases where a clinician says that a resident is close to the end of their life. This is in line with guidance from health experts from Public Health England and the Government.’