Harrogate woman pleads to see her father as she calls for change to care home visiting restrictions

A Harrogate woman is urging Government ministers to change care home visiting restrictions which she says are damaging to the mental health of residents and their families

By Brogan Maguire
Thursday, 1st October 2020, 12:32 pm
Updated Thursday, 1st October 2020, 12:36 pm

Judy Bass has been unable to see her father, who has early onset dementia and lives in a Harrogate care home, since March.

Before the pandemic, Judy would visit her father, 99-year-old Tom, pictured with Judy, every day - something which she feels was imperative for his wellbeing. She now wants to raise awareness of other families in the same situation.

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Judy Bass and her 99-year-old dad, Tom.

Judy said: “I really want to showcase the plight of residents and their relatives who I feel have been forgotten through all of this. I know there are risks but these have to be weighed up against other factors. My father is almost bed-ridden and our visits were the highlight of his day. Without those, what does he have to live for?

“There are so many people in the same position and it is so heartbreaking. Something needs to change.”

Judy says her father has always been very independent and lived in his own home for 60 years before going into a care home after he contracted sepsis and started to struggle with his health at the age of 98. With a blanket ban on visits expected to be in place until March, she feels this could do more harm than good for many people.

“My dad is quite switched on but his dementia does make it harder for him to understand some things,” she said. “He talks to us on a screen sometimes but he just doesn’t know what’s going on.

Judy has not been able to see her father, Tom, since March, as his care home has a blanket ban on visiting.

“It just doesn’t make sense to me that care workers can go on living their lives, going into the homes every day and then going home again, yet relatives are being told they must stay away. It breaks my heart to think that someone else is sat holding his hand.

“What if I never get to see him again?”

Judy has joined the Rights for Residents group, which is campaigning for the current restrictions to change. Its petition has over 125,000 signatures and its campaign is drawing national attention.

Using a template drawn up by the group, she wrote a letter to Minister for Care Helen Whately, sharing her personal story and calling for more negotiation.

The letter calls for more testing within care homes and a detailed plan with clear guidelines to ensure care home residents are reunited with their families.