‘What does she have left but touch?’ Ruthie Henshall details her mother’s decline after living in a care home during lockdown – as she campaigns to make visits a ‘legal right’
- From Tuesday, the UK’s 400,000 care residents will be allowed to go on trips outside with friends and family without having to self-isolate afterwards
- They will be able to visit a friend or family member’s garden, or go on walks in parks, public gardens and beaches
- For many, it will be the first time in over a year they have left their care homes
- The change in guidance will also allow residents to vote in Thursday’s local elections in person
Actress Ruthie Henshall detailed the impact spending lockdown in a care home has had on her mother during lockdown as she campaigns to make visits a legal right.
The 54-year-old actress was speaking on Good Morning Britain on Tuesday when she described how her mother Gloria, 87, had deteriorated during her spell in her care home.
Ruthie said: ‘Before lockdown, she was walking and talking, had a full on conversation the day before my father died.
‘When the restrictions were put in place, for four months she was on her own in her care home… She couldn’t walk, couldn’t talk, her food had to be mushed up, her drinks had to be thickened.
‘You expect some form of deterioration, but not like that.’
Ruthie was appearing on the show to talk about the campaign group Rights For Residents aiming to put pressure on the Government to make visits to care homes a legal right.
She said that as an essential carer, she currently gets good access to her mother in her care home.
‘But for others,’ she said, ‘it’s a post code lottery. Some care homes are not taking up guidelines for fear.
‘As far as I’m concerned, where are the human rights of the residents? There’s some people that haven’t seen their loved ones in 14 months.’
Ruthie also said that she doesn’t understand why carers are allowed to go into the rooms of multiple patients and then go home and see their families, but her sisters are not allowed an extended period of time with her mother.
She said: ‘My sisters get one visit every three, four weeks for half an hour. That’s not meaningful behind the screen, my mother has no idea what’s going on.
‘I think I’m safer, I’m going straight to my mother’s room… she needs touch. She can’t sleep, she can’t walk, she needs to be fed… what does she have left but touch?
‘We all know, after being starved from human touch for over a year, we know how important it is.’
Despite her mother’s decline, Ruthie said she was told by carers at the home that ‘the light is back on’ in her mother’s eye after she was able to visit.
Naddra Ahmmed, the Chair of the National Care Association, also appeared on the show 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.’
Speaking to the Mirror, Ruthie also revealed that, after being made an essential carer, she had taken a before and after picture showing the day she walked in to visit her mother, and five weeks later.
She said her mother looked 10 years younger in the latter photograph.
At the beginning of this month Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a U-Turn on cruel rules forcing anyone who leaves the confines of their care home to isolate alone for 14 days on their return.
From Tuesday, the UK’s 400,000 care residents will be allowed to go on trips outside with friends and family without having to self-isolate afterwards.
They will be able to visit a friend or family member’s garden, or go on walks in parks, public gardens and beaches.
For many, it will be the first time in over a year they have left their care homes. The change in guidance will also allow residents to vote in Thursday’s local elections in person.
This isn’t the first time that Ruthie has spoken out about visitation rights at care homes.
In February, said she would ‘fight for the right’ to see her dementia-stricken mother in her care home after an upsetting Facetime call.
She said her mother Gloria, who’s in her eighties, ‘never said a word or even smiled’ during the call – as she vowed to continue to push for people to be allowed to visit elderly relatives in care homes during lockdown.
Henshall told her followers on Twitter: ‘I had a Facetime with my mum Gloria today. She never said a word or even smiled. I am going on BBC news and ITV news this week to fight for the right to see my mummy.’