The way dementia patients in British care homes have been treated during this pandemic “should make us sick with shame and pity”. Afflicted by an illness that attacks their memory and sense of self, they draw special comfort from the presence of loved ones. Yet in the name of infection control, the Government has seen to it that this vital human link has been denied them. No longer visited, they feel confused; abandoned. But it’s not the fault of the care homes: it’s the grotesquely inflexible official guidelines, which prohibit those who run the homes from devising sensible precautions while still acting humanely towards those in their charge.
That’s why John’s Campaign, a not-for-profit movement aimed at getting the Government to reform these cruel rules, is so worthy of support. One of its main concerns is to ensure that family carers are no longer seen as “visitors”, but instead treated as a crucial part of the clinical team needing the same protection, testing and status as other key workers. The Government must be made to bring this “avoidable suffering” to an end. (Nicci Gerrard, The Observer and The Week, 19 September 20)
My comment: I have personal experience of a relative who had severe memory loss. Along with that she could be violent, owing to extreme frustration. This was before the pandemic. It was an extreme test of patience and empathy, and I felt for the nurses who looked after her and knew how to calm her. She would ask me repeatedly when she was “going home”, and I just as repeatedly changed the subject because she couldn’t go home or look after herself there. The most wrenching and upsetting period of my life. But it was right that my sister and I should be part (or part- time) involved with her care. The staff of the home were saints, bless them