Dementia-hit care home resident, 94, breaks down in tears as she recognises voice of her daughter who has not been able to visit her since March
- Rita Hookway has largely only had virtual contact with daughter Jane this year
- The 94-year-old requires 24-hour support at the care home in Gloucestershire
- She spends most of her time with her eyes closed and
This is the moment a dementia-hit care home resident breaks down in tears as she recognises the voice of her daughter who has been unable to visit her since March.
Rita Hookway has largely only had virtual contact with daughter Jane Smith for most of this year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
It has caused the 94-year-old, who requires 24-hour support at the care home in Gloucestershire, to suffer both physically and mentally.
Rita has spent the last few months missing out on holding hands with Jane, 65, while they watched detective show NCIS together, as the pair loved to do before lockdown.
However now she spends most of her time with her eyes closed, and often is left crying when she hears Jane on the phone.
The pair went without in person contact throughout the first lockdown – and since July, Jane has been the only family member allowed to visit Rita for 20 minutes every fortnight.
In heartbreaking footage, Rita can be seen recognising her daughter’s voice and breaking down in tears.
Rita Hookway has spent the last few months missing out on holding hands with Jane Smith, while they watched detective show NCIS together, as the pair loved to do before lockdown
Rita, pictured left and right in happier times, now spends most of her time with her eyes closed, and often is left crying when she hears Jane on the phone
Jane, a former NHS pharmacist, shared the clip as a way of highlighting the struggle some families are facing to see their relatives in care homes.
‘She was a very happy person, always smiling,’ she said of her mother.
‘Now her eyes are shut 99 per cent of the time and she says so few words.
‘Several times when she has seen my face or hears my voice she just breaks down.
‘It feels like she’s been imprisoned or abducted. Every day is a living hell.
‘I hadn’t wanted to share this with the world, I don’t like seeing my mother like that.
‘But I just needed to share this video, it had been eating me up.
‘No one understands what it is like. I sob my heart out when I see it, I need to put it out.
‘I’m trying to fight to have proper access to her, so she can have the hug that she needs.’
The Government has said it is rolling out lateral flow Covid-19 tests – which should give results in less than an hour – to allow care home visits without PPE.
Family members have even been able to hold the hands of their loved ones.
But not all care homes, including Rita’s, Windmill House, in Old Down, have access to the tests yet, and in some parts of the country local authorities have questioned their accuracy.
In an emotional video, Rita breaks down in tears as she recognises the voice of her daughter who has been unable to visit her since March
Jane, left, has shared the video of her and Rita, right, as a way of highlighting the struggle some families are facing to see their relatives in care homes
Before the pandemic, despite suffering from dementia, Rita was happy at the care home.
She had worked as a disabled resettlement employment officer, while playing piano and singing in church choirs in her spare time.
Jane used to visit her every day for up to three hours, and the pair would enjoy watching television together.
‘I would speak to her, hold her hand and stroke her cheek,’ Jane, of Thornbury, Gloucs, said.
‘Occasionally I would say ‘Go on Mum, open your lovely eyes so I can see your eyes.’
‘She was a very, very happy person.
‘When I would go and see her before this she would give me a big smile, and say: ‘I like you visiting.’
‘Since then she looks at me with glossy eyes.
‘It’s as if she doesn’t know who I am – she can’t see me or hear me properly.’
After lockdown ended, Jane and her sister were each allowed one visit a month outside – with Rita in the porch – for 20 minutes.
Rita would have to be hoisted out of her bed and brought out in a wheelchair, and would sometimes be shivering and cold.
Jane says she would still have her eyes closed for most of those rare visits, and in video calls she often can’t hear or see anything.
To make matters worse, Rita suffers from an abdominal aortic aneurysm, which could burst and kill her at any moment.
However this is not classified as an end-of-life condition, for which full visitation is allowed.
After lockdown ended, Rita would have to be hoisted out of her bed and brought out in a wheelchair, and would sometimes be shivering and cold
She had hoped that the new Government guidance and rapid tests – which came in after the November lockdown – would allow for closer visits to her mother.
The guidance says care homes in any tier should ‘seek to enable indoor visits where the visitor has been tested and returned a negative result’.
But Windmill Care, which runs Windmill House, says it has no idea when it will get the tests.
Managing director Len Collacott said: ‘Covid is not in the home so the only way it can get in is through our staff, our necessary visitors, medical professionals and essential workers, or residents’ visitors.
‘We keep to the Government guidelines on visiting. Some of the guidelines we agree with and others we are not so sure on, but we do have to follow them.
‘We have built a visitors ‘pod’ where visitors can safely see their loved ones but separated by a glass screen.
‘Some visitors like it and others don’t, but Covid can’t get past it.
‘We have to limit these visits due to time constraints but everyone can have a turn if they wish.
‘We also facilitate regular Skype or Zoom calls to keep residents and families in touch.’
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