Coronavirus: South Gloucestershire daughter on the 'psychological torture' of barely seeing care home mum

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A South Gloucestershire woman has described the past year as "psychological torture", having barely been able to see her mum who suffers with dementia in a care home.

Jane Smith, who lives in Thornbury, spoke to ITV West Country exactly one year on from the start of England's first coronavirus lockdown.

Her mum, 94-year-old Rita, has been in a local care home for almost three years. One of those years, Jane said, has been spent having only limited contact with her loved-ones.

"I wake up sobbing in the middle of the night. I'm having the most intense nightmares. I'm looking for something to help mum and I can't find it," Jane said.

"That's my biggest fear. That she'll die without us spending quality time together, without her knowing how much I love her, and without me making her happy."

When Boris Johnson introduced the first coronavirus lockdown, thousands of family members were unable to visit their loved ones in care homes for months.

Then after tens of thousands of Covid deaths, the Government's handling of the pandemic in care settings became the subject of an ongoing ITV News investigation.

From 8 March, some residents in England were able to start seeing a nominated friend or relative face-to-face.

But visitors must be tested, wear full personal protective equipment (PPE) and must keep physical contact to a minimum.

Handholding is allowed but hugs and kisses are not, according to the official guidance.

Rita has been in the care home for almost three years. Credit: Family picture

Jane is now allowed to see her mum for an hour, once a week. But she said the past twelve months have already had a detrimental impact on her mum's health.

"It is heartbreaking. To see my mum sobbing and I can't help her. This isn't just a one off. She is doing this two or three times every few weeks. And she looked after me when I was young, and I want to look after her," Jane said.

"All of us in this situation just want to do the best for our loved ones and see them, and hug them. Because touch is so important. Especially in dementia.

"Before March I would sit with her and I'd stroke her cheek, I'd hold her hands, and we'd watch repeat episodes of NCIS. We watched the same episode, and I'd say 'go on, open your lovely eyes Mum so I can see them', and touch is everything to somebody who is very locked into themselves."

People across the country marked the one-year anniversary of lockdown with a minute's silence to remember the 126,000 plus victims of the pandemic.

In the West Country commemorations took place at Gloucester Cathedral and Bristol Royal Infirmary to pay tribute to those who lost their lives with Covid-19.

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