‘They’re dying of broken hearts...’ Wife shares the heartbreak of restricted care home visits

PUBLISHED: 21:25 12 October 2020 | UPDATED: 12:34 13 October 2020

Anne Cowan's husband Andrew is in a Cambridgeshire care home. She's speaking out about restricted visits still in place during the coronavirus pandemic. Pictures: Anne Cowan

Anne Cowan's husband Andrew is in a Cambridgeshire care home. She's speaking out about restricted visits still in place during the coronavirus pandemic. Pictures: Anne Cowan

Archant

The wife of an Ely man who is in a care home has spoken about the heartbreak of not being able to visit him properly since March.

Anne Cowan's husband Andrew is in a Cambridgeshire care home. The couple prefer to keep in touch using FaceTime because of the strict restrictions in place for care home visits. Pictures: Anne CowanAnne Cowan's husband Andrew is in a Cambridgeshire care home. The couple prefer to keep in touch using FaceTime because of the strict restrictions in place for care home visits. Pictures: Anne Cowan

Care homes have introduced strict visiting restrictions to prevent the spread of coronavirus among residents.

But Anne Cowan, whose husband is in a Cambridgeshire care home, said: “They’re now dying of broken hearts...”

Anne wants the restrictions to change so a family member can have a proper face-to-face visit with a loved one in a care home.

Her husband of 14 years Andrew, 76, suffers with a serious heart condition and needs round the clock care for his own safety.

Andrew Cowan and his wife Anne on their wedding day 14 years ago. Pictures: Anne CowanAndrew Cowan and his wife Anne on their wedding day 14 years ago. Pictures: Anne Cowan

He moved into a care home in February.

Anne said: “We had three to four weeks where I could go in every day and we could spend time together. I even took the dog in to see him.

“That was fine and Andrew was content. Then lockdown happened and since then we’ve only had two one-hour visits in the garden.

“We were separated across two garden tables and a Perspex screen. I also had to wear the care home’s PPE, but Andrew found it difficult to hear me.”

Anne Cowan's husband Andrew (pictured with his son 17 years ago) is in a Cambridgeshire care home. She's speaking out about restricted visits still in place during the coronavirus pandemic. Pictures: Anne CowanAnne Cowan's husband Andrew (pictured with his son 17 years ago) is in a Cambridgeshire care home. She's speaking out about restricted visits still in place during the coronavirus pandemic. Pictures: Anne Cowan

Since then, some care homes have introduced indoor visits from a distance and wearing PPE.

Fighting back the emotion in her voice, she added: “The situation is heart breaking for us both, so we prefer to use FaceTime because at least then we can actually see and hear each other.

“It isn’t the same as being together in-person. These people need to be hugged by a loved one, we haven’t been able to hold each other since March.

“Families are only able to be close to their loved ones when they’re taking their final breaths, which I think isn’t acceptable.

Andrew Cowan and his wife Anne on their wedding day 14 years ago. Pictures: Anne CowanAndrew Cowan and his wife Anne on their wedding day 14 years ago. Pictures: Anne Cowan

“It’s against their human rights.”

Anne hasn’t named Andrew’s care home because she praises the care he is receiving and realises the ban on face-to-face visits is across the sector.

“However, the mental and emotional risks of being denied loving touch and comfort are huge,” she added.

Anne has contacted Lucy Frazer MP, for South East Cambridgeshire, who has written to the Health Secretary Matt Hancock about the issue.

Anne Cowan's husband Andrew is in a Cambridgeshire care home. The couple prefer to keep in touch using FaceTime because of the strict restrictions in place for care home visits. Pictures: Anne CowanAnne Cowan's husband Andrew is in a Cambridgeshire care home. The couple prefer to keep in touch using FaceTime because of the strict restrictions in place for care home visits. Pictures: Anne Cowan

Anne is also backing two national campaigns, John’s Campaign and Rights for Residents, calling for visiting restrictions to be relaxed.

She said: “I’m prepared to not mix with anyone and have regular coronavirus tests if it means being able to visit my husband again.

“I also think families should have key worker status and be allowed to return and take part in the care of their loved ones.”

She added: “Andrew and I miss each other so much. I know many others are going through this - it really is horrific.”

Anne Cowan's husband Andrew (pictured with his son 17 years ago) is in a Cambridgeshire care home. She's speaking out about restricted visits still in place during the coronavirus pandemic. Pictures: Anne CowanAnne Cowan's husband Andrew (pictured with his son 17 years ago) is in a Cambridgeshire care home. She's speaking out about restricted visits still in place during the coronavirus pandemic. Pictures: Anne Cowan

Lucy Frazer MP said: “I recognise that this has been an especially difficult time for people whose loved ones are in care homes.

“The government, and care homes themselves, have had to take some very difficult decisions to protect the lives of elderly residents, who fall in the most at-risk group.

“Anne has been in touch with me, and I have written to the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, to raise her concerns.”


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Ely Standard. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Ely Standard