This is an email I received last night from a listener called Simon. Earlier this evening I read it out on my show with his full permission. He has also said I can post it here.
You don’t know me, but I know you had a close bond with your mother.
On Tuesday I had a call from my mother’s care home in Dorset to say that she had developed a cough and a temperature, Her condition was stable but they would keep me informed. I called each evening to check on her condition and she did not seem to be deteriorating.
Yesterday I got a call to say that she was slipping away. I drove 800 miles from SW France to Dorset via the Channel Tunnel to be with her.
When I arrived just before midnight, she was lying on her back, mouth open gasping for air. I asked if she could be given oxygen but this is not available in a care home. I asked if she could go to hospital but was told by the chief nursing officer that the hospital would refuse to accept her. The home did not have the ability to test her for Covic 19 despite publicity to the contrary and indeed the staff have to travel to Plymouth, some 90 miles distant if that want to be tested.
I am told the doctor will not certify Covid 19 as the cause of death because there is no test.
I sat holding my mum’s hand for 21 hours talking to her, even though she was unconscious until she died, peacefully at 9pm this evening. Before she died she opened her eyes and smiled.
It was very surreal.
This is the reality of death in a care home.
She was a teacher who taught at Portland Secondary Modern School from 1957 until 1973 and Altwood Comprehensive Schoo on Maidenhead until she retired in 1980 at 50. She was 89.
The nurse who was with me at the end told me reluctantly that the home is rife with the virus but they are under instructions to keep it under wraps.
Please do your best to publicize what is going on in care homes
Heartbreaking. And it raises a lot of issues, not least the fact that the number of deaths in care homes will probably never be known. Simon tells me he has no issue with the care his mother received in the care home, just the system.