Families' fears as figures reveal third of Wales' Covid victims had dementia

The husband of a dementia patient who lives in a care home fears he will never see her again, as figures reveal nearly a third of people who have died with Covid in Wales had the condition.

83-year-old Bill Rees, from Llanbister, has not seen his wife, Betty, since April last year, when she was admitted to hospital.

She lives in a care home 30 miles away from their home, in Welshpool.

Indoor visits to care homes have not been allowed since March 2020 in an attempt to prevent the spread of coronavirus, with outdoor visits also restricted.

The statistics have prompted fears that families with a dementia-suffering relative will never be reunited.

"It's my biggest fear that I can't go and tell her one more time that I love her, and I'm there for her all the time," Mr Rees said.

"[I worry] something will happen before I can get there, because we've had no news about when we can visit the home."

Mr Rees has not seen his wife in nearly a year. Credit: ITV Wales

Mr Rees said he misses his wife "tremendous" amounts.

"She went into hospital in the middle of April and that's the last time I held her hand, or gave her a cwtch or told her I loved her.

"There isn't a day or a minute or an hour goes by that I don't think of Betty. We've been married now in October 60 years.

"She's the love of my life. I find I get depressed and down in the dumps because I'm thinking of Betty and I can't do nothing about it."

Mr Rees is due to have his second coronavirus vaccination this week, with Mrs Rees due to get hers next week.

The Welsh Government said it recognises the importance of people in care homes being able to meet their family and loved ones, and is considering how best to allow more indoor visits given the success in vaccinating residents and staff.

Betty Rees is among hundreds of thousands of care home residents unable to receive indoor visitors due to coronavirus. Credit: Bill Rees

Figures have revealed a staggering 2,000 people with dementia are estimated to have died with the virus in Wales.

The figures for England and Wales show that people with dementia are the worst hit group by coronavirus.

New calculations from the Office for National Statistics reveal that deaths of care home residents, where at least 70% of people have dementia, are 30% higher than previously thought.

Huw Owen, from Alzheimer's Society Cymru, said: "It's been tough, we understand, for governments across the UK, and particularly here in Wales, to deal with this.

"But ultimately I think there's always something extra - with hindsight and that 2020 vision - that we can look back and go 'we could have done this differently, we could have done this better'.

"We believe that there's a lot of lessons the government - and third sector organisations like ours - can take from this pandemic, should anything like this happen again."