North Shields care home residents wife makes key worker plea

North Shields care home residents wife makes key worker plea

A woman whose husband of 50 years is in a care home with dementia has called on the government to give people like her key worker status.

Susan Ogden has been unable to visit her husband Peter at the home in North Shields since lockdown began.

She said if essential family carers were classed as key workers she would be able to go there and hold his hand.

The Department of Health and Social care said it was considering plans to enable people such as her to visit.

Prior to lockdown she had been visiting regularly, and initially believed the restrictions would only be temporary.

In the summer, she was offered a socially-distanced visit – with a mask on – in the care home’s garden but turned it down, believing it would be more likely to be more upsetting for him than comforting.

She said: “The best way to engage with someone with advanced dementia is by touch and if I couldn’t hold his hand or stroke his face or anything like that it would be a fairly pointless exercise.

“People like I am who are classed as an essential family carer should be given key worker status.

“They should be tested regularly and then allowed to visit, wearing an apron and gloves and visor, but being able to hold Peter’s hand.

“I’d say to the government ‘tomorrow won’t do, you must act now’.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We recognise how important it is to allow care home residents to safely meet their loved ones and the challenges visiting restrictions pose for people with dementia… and their family and friends.

“Our priority remains the prevention of infections to protect staff and residents but we are considering plans to allow specific family and friends to visit safely.

“We will set out further details in due course.”

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