'It was an honour': Carer reads goodbye letter to dying grandma days before she passed away with coronavirus symptoms

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Paul Brand

A dying grandmother suffering from coronavirus symptoms in a care home was read a final goodbye from her granddaughter, just two days before she passed away, thanks to a carer at her bedside.

Peggy Grainger, 86, who had dementia, died at Philia Lodge Care Home on April 13 and due to coronavirus lockdown restrictions, was unable to be visited by family in her final moments.

But her granddaughter Gemma knew there would be some "amazing" people around caring for Peggy at her care home in Peterborough.

She wrote a goodbye letter to her grandma, saying how sorry she was for not being there during her "final breaths".

"For now Grandma this is goodbye, but I know that you will always be with us in our hearts that you have helped make so full of love and happy memories for us to treasure forever," she said.

She also asked her grandma to send love from the family to grandad, but told her: "We know he has been waiting for you but don’t let him start ordering you around, its your turn for him to wait on you."

Laura Dunn-Green, the care worker who read Peggy the letter said it was an "honour" to do so.

  • Watch the heartbreaking footage of Laura reading the goodbye letter to Peggy:

She told ITV News it was a "very emotional" thing to do but said it will stay with her "always".

Ms Dunn-Green said she had had the "hardest weeks of my life" since the care home she worked at lost its first resident to Covid-19.

She said after that moment she realised she was going to lose a lot of people that she loved.

Since the care home closed to visitors, dying residents have been unable to have family members at their bedside, but Ms Dunn-Green said: "We’ve been there for them instead, so hopefully that was enough."

In the letter Gemma wrote to her grandma, she said: "We know that the carers who have done such an amazing job of looking after you the past three years will be there with you, and we are all there next to you in spirit and will be always and forever."

Ms Dunn-Green said it was "nice to hear" that her work is being appreciated by families unable to visit their loved ones.

But she said the care home she works at will "never be the same" without some of the characters it has recently lost.

She said she misses Peggy "everyday" but is trying "to be strong for the residents we've got left".

"Being here won't be the same without her," she added.

It comes as the number of people to have died in care homes rose sharply.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) recorded 4,343 deaths of care home residents in England between April 10 to 24, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The video of Ms Dunn-Green reading the letter to Ms Grainger highlights just how much of a vital role the social care sector is playing during the coronavirus crisis.

Ms Dunn-Green decided to move into the care home she works at when she realised some of the residents would die of coronavirus without having their family around.

  • Paul Brand on the latest figures on care home deaths during the pandemic:

She said: "I moved in after our first resident tested positive for the coronavirus so I could be there for the residents that would lose their lives, because we knew they would.

"We weren't expecting some people to survive it but I wanted to be there so that they weren't alone."

She added: "It affected me massively.

"I'm still quite new here, I've only been here a year-and-a-half and in that time I've made so many strong bonds with all of the people, and I love them like they are my own family and to watch them one after the other go, I can't even put into words how hard it was."