Her beaming smile says it all. For Pam Harrison, seeing her daughter Nicky Clough after so long clearly means so much.
Similar emotional reunions took place across the country yesterday as care homes reopened to visitors.
Just like Miss Clough and Mrs Harrison, who lives at Alexander House care home in London, relatives were finally able to hold the hands of their loved-ones as indoor visits resumed after a year of draconian restrictions.
Kay Fossett, 66, broke down as she visited her mother, Sylvia Newsom, 86, for the first time since December.
Pam Harrison’s joy is clear to see as her daughter Nicky Clough pays her a visit in her carehome
‘It’s nice to see one another and be next to each other,’ she said. ‘Just to be able to feel close. Today is the best day.’
Mrs Fossett, from Croydon, south London, was able to visit Mrs Newsom, who has Alzheimer’s, at her care home in nearby Sutton.
But as a result of Covid restrictions and an outbreak over winter, she has only been able to see her mother in a pod with a screen between them.
New guidance allows visits without a screen if those coming into homes test negative for Covid and wear PPE.
It follows a major Daily Mail campaign against visiting bans that have torn families apart.
But campaigners say some care home groups are ignoring the new rules and refusing to let people in until the national vaccine rollout is complete.
Relatives’ groups want the guidance to be given legal backing to stop this ‘postcode lottery’.
Diane Mayhew, of Rights for Residents, said that while many homes had agreed to let residents have 30-minute visits, some refused to let relatives be ‘caregivers’.
She added: ‘It’s a very mixed picture. Once again it’s a postcode lottery as to whether the home is following the new guidance.
‘We’ve been inundated with emails and calls from distraught relatives who’ve been told by managers that they refuse to designate relatives as essential family caregivers.
Dr Jenny Harries, the deputy chief medical officer, said the ‘balance of risk has started to slowly shift thanks to the vaccine rollout
‘These people who live in care homes are living on borrowed time already. We won’t stop fighting until this is turned into law.’
It is thought that some providers refused visitors because they want the Government to underwrite the risk of outsiders bringing Covid into their homes, claiming their insurance did not cover them.
Visits are not permitted in care homes with outbreaks, although numbers have declined.
Some 91 per cent of older care home residents in England have had a first dose of the vaccine, and 71 per cent of staff.
Dr Jenny Harries, the deputy chief medical officer, said the ‘balance of risk has started to slowly shift’ thanks to the vaccine programme.
She said the visits signalled the start of ‘a brighter summer’, adding: ‘This is an important step forward for reuniting residents with loved-ones – but we all want to go further and are committed to allowing more visits with fewer restrictions.’