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Right balance needs to be found on family care home visits, says Highland MSP Edward Mountain


By Louise Glen

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Highland and Islands MSP Edward Mountain at Holyrood.
Highland and Islands MSP Edward Mountain at Holyrood.

Highlands and Islands MSP, Edward Mountain, has raised concerns about the negative impact that lockdown restrictions are having on the long-term mental health of care home residents.

He said fears are growing that elderly and vulnerable residents of care homes are suffering from isolation and loneliness due to continued restrictions on family visits.

"I was asked by a constituent to imagine what it would be like to meet your mother, who was suffering from dementia, through a closed window. And then for your mother to wail and bang on the window as she doesn’t understand why you won’t come in."

In a Scottish Parliament debate on supporting the care sector, Edward Mountain MSP made a heartfelt plea to all politicians to find a safe way forward so that care home residents can enjoy more family contact while also ensuring the transmission of Covid-19 is kept to a minimum.

In his speech, Edward Mountain MSP said: “Only two weeks ago I was asked by a constituent to imagine what it would be like to meet your mother, who was suffering from dementia, through a closed window. And then for your mother to wail and bang on the window as she doesn’t understand why you won’t come in.

"Covid-19 means nothing to her, what she can’t understand is why you won’t hold her in the same way you she wants to hold you.

“This is a situation many families are struggling with across Scotland. It feels heartless and it is, which is why some families are questioning if we have the balance right.

He continued: “Whilst positive cases of Covid–19 are on the rise so is the poor mental health of our elderly and most vulnerable, who feel confused and lonely, unloved and ignored, and worst still in many cases feel deserted by their families.

“While we have a duty to protect people from the threat of the pandemic we must not lose sight of what makes us human. We all crave the contact and often the physical re-assurance of connection and that is achieved by a cherished visit from friends and family.

“This is especially important when loved ones are coming to the end of their lives and want nothing more than to reach out and hold hands for the last time.

“Family visits are also vital to the health of long-term in-patients who have complex needs too and it is far from ideal that the designated family members are so limited on their visits.

“We need to find a safer way to show we care," he added.

A full transcript of Edward Mountain’s speech can be found here.

Related: Appeal over visits amid concern about mental health impact on vulnerable people

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