A FAMILY has described their heartache after not being able to see their mum face-to-face in a care home for six months throughout the pandemic.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, there have been fears for the health of the older generation.

This caused the government to put visitation bans in place at care homes, with few changes throughout almost 12 months during restrictions and lockdowns.

However, families with loved ones in care homes are now campaigning for some restrictions to be lifted in some cases.

They believe the restrictions are affecting their loved ones' mental health.

One such person is Alma Flaherty, 79, from St Helens town centre, who moved into a care home in St Helens in November 2020 due to her progressing Alzhiemers.

Christine, centre with sister Julie Fitzhenry and mum Alma

Christine, centre with sister Julie Fitzhenry and mum Alma

However, since then, due to restrictions, her heartbroken family say they have seen the negative impact on their mum and gran.

The fear that older people are becoming the "forgotten generation".

Alma's daughter Christine Leather, from Newton-le-Willows, said: "Whilst the papers and news on TV discuss giving pubs, club, theatres a new lease of life and ways to relax restrictions, the world seems to have forgotten the people who live in care homes who have not been able to see family members for six months and even more.

"They are forgotten whilst everyone just wants to go the pub and on holiday.

"We were forced to put mum into a care home in November, which was a really difficult decision to have to make, and since then due to Covid we've not been able to see her in person.

"We've had three window visits in that time, but even they are being withdrawn now.

"The decline in how she is is clear for everyone to see, she's 79 but she's aged considerably in the last six months and isn't eating properly.

Alma before she moved into the care home

Alma before she moved into the care home

"It's now been six months. I've not been able to see my mum due to Covid and she had gone from a bubbly personality to a withdrawn and ill looking while feeling lost and forgotten.

"She cannot understand why we can see her only through a pane of glass.

"I am a medical secretary and have lateral testing twice a week, we are all understanding of the restrictions, but if we get tested and come back with a negative result, why can we not visit my mum wearing full PPE.

"The few times we have seen her in some way, the care staff even comment on how different she is.

"Her health has really deteriorated, we were asked to sign a Do Not Resuscitate form at one point because her health had declined so much.

"We would all happily get any tests that was required, we just want to see our mum.

"The concern in the news is very much about places reopening and the affect this will have on school children.

The familys most recent picture of Alma, just six months later

The family's most recent picture of Alma, just six months later

"But my argument is that even if it does have an effect, they are at the beginning of their lives.

"They have time to catch up, my mum is towards the end of her's and this is precious time we are losing with her.

"She and others must feel like animals in a cage and are truly like the forgotten generation.

"I appreciate the restrictions are in place for a reason, but I truly think that more consideration needs to be done into the effect this will have on the mental health of our loved ones in care homes.

"We as a family love our mum and understand the pandemic has gone on longer than anyone expected but feel very strongly about what has happened to people in care homes .

"This generation will never get this time back and it now more than ever we as a family have realised our time with her is precious and not a minute more should be wasted .

"The government need to think about helping care homes and families get time together again before its to late."

Earlier this week, a minister suggested face-to-face visits in care homes could resume within weeks as England's lockdown is eased.

Care minister Helen Whately told Sky News she wants to see a return to more "normal" visits as Covid-19 restrictions are relaxed.

People would not have to wait for their relatives to receive their second vaccine dose 

"I really, really want to open up visiting in care homes more. To be clear, we have made sure that visiting can continue even during this national lockdown," Ms Whately said.

"But I recognise it's not the normal kind of visiting, it's having to use screens or visiting pods or through windows if care homes don't have those facilities."