Ex-policeman who was barred from care home granted final farewell to dying mum

A Cambridgeshire man has said a final goodbye to his dying mum after previously being barred from visiting her by a local care home.

Nick Collins, 60, said he was originally told he could only visit his mum, Pat Collins, 89, when she was 48 hours from death.

By the time the former Met Police officer was able to visit his mum, who has rapidly declining dementia and had contracted coronavirus, he said she was unable to speak.

The last time Nick hugged Pat was in March before lockdown, and he was able to do two socially distanced visits in June, but further visits were cancelled whenever a resident or staff member had Covid symptoms.

Wife Jill Collins criticised “the barbaric way that friends and relatives of residents have been treated in banning them from visiting their loved ones during this pandemic”.

The situation began about a month ago when Pat was admitted to West Suffolk Hospital with coronavirus, a chest infection, severe dehydration and oral thrush.

Pat with her grandchildren.
(Image: Jill Collins)

She was released into the care home with end of life care last week, when the hospital said there was nothing else they could do to help her.

All her medicines have been withdrawn, except for pain medication, as is standard.

Her doctors expect her to suffer from fatal renal failure within weeks.

After days of pleading with the care home, run by Care UK, the family said Nick was allowed to visit Pat on Sunday at 5pm, but by this point she was unable to speak.

When she was discharged from hospital, the family said she was lucid and able to converse with others.

The couple said they could not forgive the hospital for not allowing a visit while they could still talk to Pat.

Nick was devastated when he realised he could not speak to her.
(Image: Jill Collins)

Nick, from Chippenham, East Cambridgeshire, said in an open letter prior to being able to meet his mother: “My mother is gradually losing consciousness. She knows me. She recognises my face, she recognises my voice.

“Please just let me see her, let me have one final conversation where she can see me and recognise me. It’s inhumane.

“There are hundreds of other people in other care homes in the same position as me.

“Just show some compassion, some humility, and let us have something.”

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He claimed the care home initially rejected this and told him he could see her 48 hours before her death, although eventually agreed to allow a visit.

However by the time the visit came around, it was too late to speak to her.

During the visit, Nick discovered his worst fears were realised when she could not talk with him, but Jill said he thinks she knows he was there, because she squeezed his hand and half smiled.

She added: “We don’t get those opportunities sometimes to speak to our loved ones before they pass.

“But when it’s there, and someone takes it away from you for no good reason, it’s wrong. It’s wrong.

“Who do these care homes think they are to dictate to us what happens?”

Nick was desperate to see her while she was still lucid.
(Image: Jill Collins)

She added: “It’s heartbreaking. I wouldn’t wish what’s happened to him on anyone.

“She’s the dearest sweetest little lady you ever could meet.

“We can’t help her, or give her any love in her final days.”

A Care UK spokesperson said: “Firstly, we would like to say our thoughts are with  Mr Collins and his family at this difficult time. Our team are working tirelessly to keep his mother comfortable and we were very glad to host the recent visit.

“Our first priority is always the safety and wellbeing of all the residents in our homes. Like all providers, we have to strike the difficult balance between hosting such visits and minimising the chance of someone inadvertently bringing the infection into the home.

“We have, since the start of the pandemic hosted hundreds of visits for family members in cases where a clinician says that a resident is close to the end of their life. This is in line with guidance from health experts from Public Health England and the government.”

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