Adam Purnell demanded the Government and local councils formulated an urgent plan to get facilities to open up. Despite homes being provided with rapid testing and new guidelines allowing family visits, many providers continue to lock families out. Mr Purnell, care quality manager at Kepplegate House in Preesall, Lancs, said: “There is no point keeping people safe from Covid if we are just going to kill them with a suffocating sense of fear and loneliness.
“Covid-safe can no longer refer to just being safe from contracting the virus. Yes, a large part is to keep people free from Covid-19, or this dreaded new variant, but it is also about keeping people safe from loneliness, malnutrition, dehydration and premature death that comes along with it.
“Covid-safe is about ensuring people are kept connected, don’t die lonely and enjoy their final years.”
Kepplegate became one of the first care homes in Britain to give all its residents and staff the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. It can now reunite relatives with their loved ones.
After normal visits were banned, Mr Purnell turned Kepplegate’s reception area into a visiting lounge.
The home purchased rapid testing before the Government provided them, allowing the home to become among the first in the UK to allow face-to-face visits weeks before Christmas.
Mr Purnell, 31, said: “The absolute bitter irony that relatives must wait until their loved ones are dying to finally be able to be close to them is barbaric.
“There are probably many people who have migrated to the impersonal category of end-of-life prematurely largely due to all that was familiar and important to them being torn away.
“We are now in lockdown 3.0 and the guidance for care homes feels as restrictive as ever. Large chain homes are installing floor-to-ceiling screens to enable more zoo-like visits with an alarming sense of permanency.”
Jenny Morrison, of campaign group Rights for Residents, said: “The level of power some care home managers and owners are exerting over residents and their families is unacceptable and inhumane.
“In some cases those raising concerns and fighting for the right to visit have been threatened with eviction.
“Many residents are exercising the only right they have left, which is to end their suffering by refusing to eat or drink.”