AN OTLEY woman has spoken out in support of a campaign to change visiting rules at care homes.

The John's Campaign dementia action group is calling for a judicial review of government guidance on visiting homes during the ongoing pandemic.

The group says many care homes are still refusing to allow face-to-face visits despite the importance of family contact to older people - and especially those with dementia.

The Government points out that many homes are allowing limited, appointment-only visits - often outside, with no physical contact - and that its first priority has to be preventing COVID-19 infections.

One Otley resident however, who would like to be known simply as Claire, has spoken out about the impact the restrictions are having on families like hers.

Claire's mother Anne, 79, and her family decided in early 2019 that, due to having vascular dementia, she could no longer live on her own and would move from Cornwall to a care home near her daughter, in Otley and Dominic, in Ripon.

Claire said: "She needed to be looked after, company, and constant reassurance and emotional support.

"Being faced with dementia creates harsh choices - her flat was sold to pay for her £900 a week care fees and she gave up her home town. These huge sacrifices were deemed worth making so she could be cared for through a partnership between the care home and the family. For more than a year I visited most afternoons while Dominic would take her to church weekly and sometimes she would visit our houses for meals.

"Then the pandemic hit, all visits to the home were suspended, and family were no longer able to take residents out."

Claire attaches no blame to the care homes for obeying the rules, but fears her mother and others could continue to be starved of real contact for months to come.

She said: "Care homes like hers are doing their utmost to support their residents. They have provided additional activities within the home and introduced new technology to support contact between residents and their families.

"But none of this can replace the lifelong bonds, memories and meaning that close family contact can give to confused people with dementia."

She added: "There does seem to be a reasonable solution if only the Government could support care homes to enact it. Even if just one family member could be deemed essential to a resident's wellbeing, be regularly tested, and adhere to all the safety measures already in place for staff then surely indoor visits, short outdoor excursions and personal contact could resume?"

For more details visit the John's Campaign Facebook page. Rights for Relatives is also running a petition - Please let me see my family before it's too late! at