Chronicles

Audrey, 85, enjoys an ice cream on first trip out of her care home in 14 months

After 14 months of being confined within the walls of her care home, this 85-year-old was delighted to taste freedom – and an ice cream!

Today Audrey Chuter, from Eothen Homes in Wallsend, enjoyed her first trip out in over a year to the coast for long-awaited outing with her daughter Julie.

Sadly Julie has seen her mum’s health and mobility deteriorate over the past few months and describes the recent situation as feeling like her family has ‘been locked out” while her mum was ‘”locked-in”.

Thanks to home visits and visiting pods Audrey’s family have been able to see her during lockdown, but Julie is now looking forward to spending more time with her mum without strict restrictions.

The loving mum and daughter caught up for lost time with a trip to Dibbleys in Tynemouth.

Audrey Chuter (85) enjoys an ice cream at Dibbleys in Tynemouth, on her first day out in a year

Audrey, 85, who has dementia, said: “It’s great to be out of the home and be outside, even if the weather is rubbish! I love ice cream, it’s my absolute favourite. I had to get one even though it’s cold and wet.

Julie, 56, said: “It has been lovely, she loved being out. She needs to be out she needs the exercise and stimulation that you get from being outside. She’s been inside far too long.

“The staff have been really good care for her, especially when she had fallen. But my mam has dementia it’s always been said that the best thing is to reminisce but the carers will find it hard when they don’t know their memories.

“We used to take her out 3/4 times a week for lunch, she struggles with her mobility now as she has suffered from walking on a frame.

“There is a balance between living and having a quality of life. I know my mam, if she expresses herself she would rather say she wanted to see the kids rather than being wrapped up in cotton wool.

“For me, it feels too slow, everything’s been opening at a faster rate than care homes, to be essentially locked in for 14 months.

Audrey Chuter (85) enjoys an ice cream at Dibbleys in Tynemouth, on her first day out in a year
Audrey Chuter (85) enjoys an ice cream at Dibbleys in Tynemouth, on her first day out in a year

Following a fall in Covid cases, the government said it is now ‘much safer’ for care home residents to go outdoors and announced on Friday that residents can go on ‘low-risk trips’, such as to relatives’ gardens or a local park, from May 4.

This comes after the charity, John’s Campaign threatened legal action against the government’s 14-day self-isolation requirement.

Campaigners said the isolation requirement has left families feeling “powerless” because of “restrictive” visits and that they feel that their loved ones are being “imprisoned”.

But now these doting North East families have not let the miserable weather stop them from reuniting outdoors, as they enjoyed quality time at their favourite places for the first time in over a year.

Sandra Graham’s dad Harry Hall became a resident at Eothen Home, Whitley Bay, following his diagnosis of Dementia and Alzheimers in February 2020.

A month later national lockdown hit and Harry was unable to see his family until the government allowed visiting pods and garden visits.

Sadly over the past year, Sandra said her father’s health has deteriorated and is heartbroken when he forgets who his relatives are.

Sandra Graham and her dad Harry Hall out on their first trip to Seaton Sluice in a year

But today Sandra took her dad to visit one of his favourite places at Seaton Sluice for some fish and chips in the car.

Harry, 95, said: “It’s very nice to get out – but it’s bloody cold. It’s like being on your holidays, I should have brought my bucket and spade.”

And his 65-year-old daughter was delighted to be able to spend one on one time with her dad.

The 65-year-old, who is running for Labour candidate for the local election for Whitley Bay ward, said: “This is the first step of many. It’s atrocious the way they have been locked up. It is absolutely horrible.

“My dad has dementia and Alzheimers and he keeps forgetting that he can’t go out and he can’t remember who people are. He’s deaf so can’t speak on the phone and visiting the home wearing masks is a nightmare as he is unable to read my lips.

Sandra Graham and her dad Harry Hall out on their first trip to Seaton Sluice in a year
Sandra Graham and her dad Harry Hall out on their first trip to Seaton Sluice in a year

“Today has been a godsend it has been so lovely to be on our own and nice for him to be given a sense of reality.

“He is in a very small environment, most of the time living in one room apart from his meals and sitting in a lounge. There is a big wider world out there.

“The staff have been great and replaced his family for him. It hasn’t been fair to tell care homes provides bank holiday weekend about new restrictions. It’s not good enough our older people deserve better.”

Sandra Graham is standing against John Appleby, Liberal Democrats, Gordon Bell, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, Stephen Maurice Mack, Conservative and Unionist Party and Alan Steele, Green Party for Whitley Bay ward.

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