Relatives & Residents Association

We support, inform and speak on behalf of older people in care


Heart-breaking removal of husband’s visits which were thought to help wife recover

“I am very disappointed and angry that I was not able to continue to see my wife face to face”


Lesley and I have been together for 45 years. We have two sons and five grandchildren. At 62 Lesley was unfortunately diagnosed with young-onset Alzheimer’s. I initially looked after her at home but after two years reluctantly agreed she should go into a nursing home. It was an exceedingly difficult decision, but as her disease progressed it would not have been possible for me to look after her. For six years I visited her every day, to feed her and give her drinks as well as just being with her. This was until 9th March this year when the home closed to visitors. Now we can only meet from two metres away and wearing a mask. It makes it impossible for anyone with advanced dementia like Lesley to understand or interact in any way.


John and Lesley

On 1st October I received a call from the care home saying that Lesley was not eating, drinking or taking her medication and thought to be nearing the end of her life. Consequently, I was allowed to go and see her in her room, which was very upsetting as I got no reaction. I had two more of these visits, and Lesley was still very weak and still not eating or drinking. On the fourth day, I rang the home and was told that she had now taken a drink and her medication and was to be given something to eat. She was also much more alert. She was not now considered end of life, which of course was good to hear, but I was told that I could not now visit in her room again.


I appreciated the opportunity to see my wife, of course I am pleased to know that she is now more responsive and eating and drinking. I could use stronger language but I am very disappointed and angry that I am not able to continue to see her other than from a socially distant visit in the porch.


Although I didn’t get any response when I visited, I am of the strong opinion that she would have known that I was with her and this would have contributed to her recovery. My visits for 3 days must have helped with the vast improvement. She was not able to swallow so was not drinking or taking medication at that time, so how did she improve so much?


I accept that the care home is only doing what they are told to do, and I am not questioning their care. However I feel strongly that the line taken is cruel and heartless. Visits from two metres do not work for us. As she was so unwell I didn’t consider it right to expect her to be brought into the cold porch, with the front door left open.


This situation can’t go on for ever so something has got to change. Eight months is already too long.


R&RA are campaigning to End Isolation In Care. Find out how you can get involved here.If you have been affected by the issues raised in this story, or would like advice or support on visiting your relative or friend in care, our helpline is here for you.

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