Patrick Christys: The care home situation was one of the most vividly awful parts of the Covid crisis

I honestly think most terminally ill people would rather die of Covid than live out their final days alone, with no family by their side.

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The single biggest sign that we’re out of this pandemic is over is the relaxation of care home rules.

The care home situation was absolutely shocking – it was one of the most vividly awful parts of the Covid crisis.

What happened was unforgivable.

Firstly, NHS patients who had diagnosed with Covid were knowingly sent back into care homes, sometimes not even their own care homes, which meant that it ripped through the care system.

At the height of the pandemic one in four care home deaths in England and Wales involved Covid.

It seemed to me that the elderly were hung out to dry, or die, really. They were treated as people who were probably on the way out anyway so what’s the point of preserving them?

But I don’t think it was just the actual lives of care home residents that were completely cast aside, it was their mental wellbeing, it was the humanity of it all…and, frankly, common sense.

One of my friends’ fathers was given a year to live at the start of the pandemic, unfortunately he died in just 10 months and my mate wasn’t allowed to see him.

As things reached the end stage he begged to be allowed to see his father one last time, He’d tested negative for Covid, his dad tested negative for Covid…but no. He wasn’t allowed. His dad died alone.

What was the point of that? A man with terminal cancer, days left to live, testing negative for Covid not being able to see his son in his final moments…

The fact is that I think the vast majority of people in care homes would have rather died of Covid than not seen their families for 18 months.

In September 2021, Lynne Hughes was finally able to hug her mum for the first time in nearly two years after seeing her through panes of glass, across lawns and behind acrylic screens in sealed pods.

Tragically, for that final hug Lynne was leaning over mum Doreen's coffin.

It made me feel physically sick to see the harrowing images and videos of people with senile dementia, in the very late stages of it, unable to comprehend what was going on…hammering at the glass windows as their crying relatives waved at them.

That ridiculous long rubber glove people could stick their hands in to touch their grandparents.

One woman was arrested for taking her mum out of a care home so she could look after her herself in a more covid secure environment.

Basically, she realised that her mum was more likely to survive in her house than the care home.

Police pulled them into a service station after they drove off and arrested the daughter and returned the mother to her care home.

It was inhumane.

Now, 90% of care home residents have had the booster jab, there is a more dominant but thankfully milder variant, there is adequate PPE…

Covid restrictions in care homes are being relaxed in England from Monday.

And from February 16, care home workers will be asked to take a lateral flow Covid test before every shift, rather than the current system of weekly PCR tests alongside lateral flow tests three times a week.

This is good, this is learning to live with Covid.

I don’t want to live in a country where the second somebody goes into a care home you know that you’ll only be able to see them again in full protective gear and that the second there is a new scariant in town…the care home shuts its doors.

The priorities of people in the media and in politics are, yet again, all wrong – oooh let’s all get obsessed with parties. Tens of thousands of this country’s most vulnerable people died alone – where’s the Sue Gray report into that?

I’ll just finish by saying something again that people may find controversial. But I honestly think most terminally ill people would rather die of Covid than live out their final days alone, with no family by their side.