The family of a Liverpool great-grandad have shared heartbreaking images of him one year apart to highlight the cruel effect a year of separation is having on care home residents.John Ross is 89 and is in a care home in south Liverpool. He previously lived in Anfield with his wife of 63 years, Marlene.A former engineer who once worked on the Radio City Tower, John was placed into a care home as he was suffering with vascular dementia.As pictures show, this time last year he was looking healthy and smiling as he put his arm around Marlene after presenting her with a bouquet of roses on Valentine’s Day.
In another picture taken around the same time he looked well - and his family say he was in good shape at the time.But after a year of separation from his loving family because of the coronavirus pandemic, John has deteriorated.His smile is gone and he looks gaunt and unkempt, and when his daughter Penny Ogden is allowed a rare visit, he tells her: “I’ve got nothing left to live for. I want to die.”John was born in India and met Marlene there, before the two moved back to the UK to get married and settle in Liverpool.He has only seen his beloved wife once for 20 minutes in the past 12 months - and his children only a handful of times.John has five children, 21 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.Penny said the lack of family contact has been devastating for him and sadly means he doesn't remember many members of his family.She said: “In the last year he has deteriorated so much in his appearance. He just looks absolutely awful. He’s lost so much weight, he’s not eating or drinking. He has changed so much.Penny says she can count on one hand the number of visits she’s had with her dad in the past year.And while the 59-year-old understands the need to protect care home residents from the virus, she says it has gone too far the other way at the price of her dad’s quality of life.She said: “It was his birthday in September and my mum, who’s also in her eighties, got to visit him."It was an outdoor visit for 20 minutes. She wasn’t allowed to hold him, to touch him or give him a hug. And all he did was cry.“My mum came away absolutely distraught. She just feels so guilty because she says she’s put him into this care home.“Since March 12, 2020, I can count on one hand how many times I’ve seen my dad.”Penny and her family say her dad is receiving good care and staff are doing their best in a difficult situation but something needs to change.She added: “He’s had his vaccination, my mum’s had it. We still can’t go in and see him.“Even if one member of the family was able to get in - I know it’s not going to go back to the way it was - but they’ve got to do something. It is absolutely desperate.”Campaign group Rights for Residents, along with Age UK, John’s Campaign, National Care Forum, Relatives & Residents Association and the Nursing Homes Association, want people in care homes to be able to select a relative as an essential care giver so they can be reunited with their loved ones.
We are acutely aware of the importance of visits for everyone involved and visits can continue to take place with arrangements such as outdoor visiting, substantial screens, or visiting pods. “While the vaccines provide protection from serious disease, we do not yet know if they prevent someone from passing on the virus. This means it is still important to follow the visiting guidance.