'I need to live again before it's too late': Life inside a care home during Covid-19

New guidance around care home visiting has been published by the Scottish Government, allowing for two designated visitors to see each resident once a week.

For care home residents the change cannot come soon enough, as many have faced almost a year of isolation from their families, with sporadic visits in gardens when rules have allowed.

Alice Hall, 96, has lived in her care home on the outskirts of Glasgow for 18 months – the past 12 of which have been difficult.

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"I understood the need for immediate lockdown measures because of Covid, but overnight we changed from living in a safe, homely environment with independence and freedom to come and go, to becoming an institution with blanket bans imposed and doors closed,” she said.

Alice Hall during a garden visit from her daughter Sheila.

"It’s hard to describe what it feels like to have total control removed, especially as I previously had so much support to be as independent as possible.”

Ms Hall said it would have made a “world of difference” if one designated relative could have continued to visit, especially as her daughter Sheila plays a “huge part” in her care.

When restrictions were eased in the autumn, Ms Hall enjoyed weekly garden visits from her daughter, but found the cold weather uncomfortable and struggled to hear through masks and across a distance.

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Alice Hall during a recent garden visit.

She misses outings in the car, coffee shops and hairdressers, but most importantly contact with her family.

"I am terrified that I will die without seeing my son and grandchildren ever again,” she said.

Ms Hall has endured periods of isolation during the pandemic, because of time in hospital after a fall, Covid outbreaks in the home, and catching the virus herself around the new year.

"It is really hard knowing that you cannot even open your bedroom door,” she said.

She stressed the care home had provided the best possible care and support.

"I am very well looked after, and admire the way the staff have coped with the recent difficult situation,” she said. “I am also fortunate to have my own telephone and iPad so can be in touch with the outside world.”

She added: "I am confident I will not die from Covid, but I need to be able to live again before it is too late. At 96, quality of life is more important.”

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