Woman banned from visiting dying mum unsupervised after unauthorised hug

A daughter has been banned from visiting her dying mum unsupervised, following an ‘unauthorised’ hug in her care home. 

Lorna Hammond, 46, was told her mum Penny Simson had just hours to live and rushed to be with her at Sovereign House care home in Coventry last week. 

But staff kicked her out after they caught Lorna giving Penny, 74, who has Parkinson’s and Dementia, a hug in her bed, amid fears that coronavirus could again sweep through UK care homes, where it killed thousands in the first wave of the pandemic. 

Staff told Lorna that while visiting was allowed, any touching was banned due to restrictions around Covid-19.

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The married mum-of-four was told to leave the home immediately and later told she could only see her mum in future for half an hour with supervision.

Lorna, also from Coventry, branded the situation ‘cruel’.

She said: ‘I knew it was the end really. I went up to see her and was really emotional anyway.

‘I wanted to speak to my mum about something before she died. I didn’t want her to be alone and got into bed with her and gave her a cuddle and kiss.’

Lorna, a full-time carer for her autistic daughter, 9, and dad who is a recovering alcoholic, went to see her mother last Wednesday, the day before the national lockdown came in. The new rules still allow care home visits but suggests using ‘substantial screens, visiting pods and window visits’. 

She continued: ‘The staff came back in and saw me because I hadn’t locked the door. They asked me to leave and I left straight away.

‘Then I got a phone call saying there had been a report to safeguarding meaning I had abused my mum.

‘I was devastated, but I would do it again because I wanted my mum to know she isn’t alone.’

Lorna wanted to tell her mum her that one of her grandchildren is expecting a baby, but that it may not survive a heart condition diagnosed in utero.

Lorna said: ‘It is so cruel.

‘My mum has had Parkinson’s since I was two which is 44 years ago and she was diagnosed with Dementia around eight years ago.’

She added: ’In lockdown in June we got a call from the home saying she had six hours to live.

‘Obviously she is still alive now. We were all round her bed and we weren’t in PPE. We were allowed to be with her and touch her.

‘But on Wednesday I got a phone call to say her swallow reflex had gone. I went to see her and she had a chest infection on top of that, so she couldn’t speak.

‘I wanted to hug her because they’d said she was hours from death.’

People in care homes are likely to be particularly vulnerable to the pandemic and hugging could pass on the virus, which could then spread to staff or other home residents.

But calling for a change in the rules, Lorna said: ‘My daughter can go to school, my husband can go to work, but I can’t hug my dying mother.

‘It is wrong, so wrong.’

Penny has two children, four grandchildren and one great granddaughter but was one of the youngest people in the country to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s when she was 29.

She is a former cub leader who worked in a bank and volunteered in Oxfam shops.

Lorna praised care home staff but said they pose a bigger risk than her because they see more people. She added: ‘The government has got it wrong if you can’t give them a hug when they’re dying. It is inhumane.

‘I will follow any other restriction. I waited four months to see my granddaughter after she was born when I could have broken the rules by driving down to Salisbury to hold her.

‘I know I broke the rules but I would do the same again to see my mum and give her a cuddle.’

The care home has been contacted for comment.

Government advice for care home visits in lockdown explains: ‘Care home providers, families and local professionals should work together to find the right balance between the benefits of visiting on wellbeing and quality of life, and the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to social care staff and vulnerable residents as we enter national restrictions. 

‘We recognise how important visiting is as residents approach the end of their lives.

‘As has been the case throughout the pandemic response visits in exceptional circumstances such as end of life should continue in all circumstances.’

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