DYING OF LONELINESS: AGED CARE VISITS SHOULD BE ALLOWED
LONELY nursing home residents feel “jailed’’ in lockdown and should be allowed visits from vaccinated family, aged care advocates are demanding.
National Seniors president Professor John McCallum said many elderly Australians are suffering loneliness and distress in lockdown.
“It’s a human right to visit one another — you’re not in jail,’’ he said.
“Some of the nursing homes get legal advice not to let anyone come in, so they don’t have any risk.’’
Professor McCallum said infections in nursing homes had come from unvaccinated staff, rather than visitors.
He said it was “very distressing’’ for elderly residents locked in nursing homes in Victoria and NSW.
“Residents are supposed to be in a homelike environment — not a lockup,’’ he said.
Professor McCallum said vaccinated visitors should be allowed to see elderly relatives “before Freedom Day’’, referring to plans to lift restrictions once 70 per cent of adults are vaccinated against Covid19.
Aged Care Crisis founder Lynda Saltarelli called for iPads and “meeting pods’’ to be used to help family members stay in touch with relatives, but warned that many nursing homes are too short-staffed to facilitate visits.
“The lockdown might protect them from Covid but the flip side is the effect on residents’ mental health from being locked up for long periods
of time, often left alone in their rooms,’’ she said.
Grandmother Margaret Crane, 94, is locked down in a Victorian aged care home and misses her family so much she constantly tells them she would “rather die’’.
“It’s so distressing to hear her say, ‘I just want to die, when am I going to see you again?’’’ her daughter Dianne Thompson, of Sunbury, said.
“She is so lonely and sad because she can’t have personal visits, it pulls at your heartstrings.
“Every day I call her and she constantly says she wished she would just die rather than live like this.’’
She said that family members fully vaccinated against Covid-19 should be able to visit vaccinated residents of nursing homes at any time.