Express & Star comment: Care home deaths avoidable

By Star Comment | Opinions | Published:

We have been shocked by the figures. The UK’s Covid-19 death toll has been too high. There were far too many deaths in the wider community and the death toll in our care homes was avoidable and catastrophic.

Care home deaths avoidable

Yet there are greater costs to assess. People who were unable to say goodbye to loved ones have been traumatised by the experience. Those who needed them most were isolated at the time of their greatest vulnerability. Such circumstances are profoundly difficult to process.

The elderly have suffered loneliness and isolation on an unprecedented scale. Some people have spent months alone.

Add to that the complication of dementia and the human cost is difficult to imagine. Children have also suffered as they have been separated from their school chums. They have been unable to engage properly in their education, anxious about what will be required to catch-up and without the opportunity to share their feelings with peers at a crucial stage of their development. Research released today speaks of the emotional impact both on young people but also parents who have seen the family routine obliterated.

Those who missed the chance to say goodbye to a loved one, however, have been hit hardest.

The absence of a final kiss, the ability to hold a hand, to reassure and to convey love and compassion have left a void. That has been compounded by rules surrounding funerals and cremations.

People have shouldered such sacrifices magnanimously, though it has been galling that in some cases those in public office have failed them, with Dominic Cummings leading from the front. If there is one positive the nation has realised that the UK’s essential workers are NHS staff and care workers, rather than bankers and CEOs. That compassion, empathy and warmth must now be displayed to those not yet able to grieve properly because of lockdown restrictions.

We must reach out to people affected, offering moral support and assurance as they try to process death in the most testing circumstances imaginable.


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