Elderly Leeds care home resident with dementia to be evicted after family's 'window visits'

A 78-year-old woman with dementia is to be evicted from a Leeds care home after an "irreconcilable breakdown" with the family who sat outside her window in lockdown.

Tuesday, 17th November 2020, 1:50 pm
Updated Tuesday, 17th November 2020, 2:10 pm

Denise Hobbs, of Garforth, said she was "heartbroken" at the decision by Aspen Hill Village, which will see her mother, who is often confused due to her condition, moved to a new home.

Elizabeth Bow, known as Anne, has been in the Hunslet care home since April and suffers from vascular dementia.

Denise, a police officer, said they were being punished for conducting "window visits", which she believes they had "implied permission" for.

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Elizabeth 'Anne' Bow in her room.

Aspen Hill said Mrs Hobbs and her siblings had "repeatedly breached" their Covid-19 visiting policies and that the eviction was "never a decision that we take lightly".

But the 53-year-old said they were given no warnings that what they had done could lead to eviction and said she was called out of the blue in October informing her that Mrs Bow would have to leave within 28 days.

"It's bad enough we have not been able to see her properly, to go in and brush her hair," Denise said.

"But this is just heartbreaking. My mum has done nothing wrong - she is being punished for what we are alleged to have done, which she has had no control over."

Diane Hobbs with her mother.

More than 20,000 care home residents died from Covid-19 during the first wave of the pandemic

Denise said she had encountered no problems for most of lockdown - while dropping things outside the building for her mother, she would often sit outside her ground floor flat while staff opened the patio doors so they could speak.

Denise said that at some points over summer she had even been allowed to sit at a distance from her mother in the home's hair salon, while wearing PPE.

She said she had only seen her mum from the window twice in recent months, with October 4 being the last time she saw her, though Aspen Hill disputed this.

Aspen Hill Village (photo: Google).

Then, care home staff told Denise she was not allowed to be there, and she got upset.

She laid the blame with management, and said she appreciated the hard work and dedication of the care staff.

It was thought Mrs Bow would have to leave today (Tuesday), but Denise said Aspen Hill had postponed the eviction while they found a new home for Mrs Bow.

"The heartbreaking thing is, we will not even be able to see anywhere for her due to the restrictions," she added.

Mother and daughter.

"She is going to feel abandoned again. She already gets worried that we don't know where she is.

"It is just horrendous, a nightmare."

Diane insisted she had not been warned about her window visits.

"We have not done this to be belligerent," she said. "We thought this was allowed all the way through.

"If care staff can go home to their children, who have been to school, then come in and put their arm round my mum, why can't I see her from outside?"

Denise also claimed the move may be a so-called "revenge eviction" for posts made in a Facebook group, something the home strongly denies.

Elizabeth 'Anne' Bow.

She is backing the Rights for Residents campaign, which is calling for a "more humane and nuanced solution that balances the risk of contracting Covid-19 against the devastating mental and physical deterioration" on the elderly in lockdown.

A retired nurse from Humberside was arrested earlier this month after she removed her 97-year-old mother from a care home before lockdown 2 began.

Diane Mayhew, from Rights for Residents, said Government plans which would allow visits by Christmas were moving too slowly for the “thousands of people who will be dead by then”.

Health secretary Matt Hancock confirmed yesterday (Monday) pilot schemes are being run across 20 care homes in low-infection areas in Hampshire, Devon and Cornwall from this week.

Jayne Connery, director of Care Campaign for the Vulnerable, said: “We are calling for an independent review on every eviction served in care homes.”

The Aspen Hill Village statement in full:

"It is with considerable regret that we had to ask the resident to leave Aspen Hill Village.

"Asking a resident to leave their home is never a decision that we take lightly.

"The resident was asked to leave because her family refuses to comply with our visiting policy.

"We appreciate that restrictions placed on visiting is exceptionally difficult for our residents and their loved ones.

"However, we have a duty of care to ensure the safety of all our residents and to minimise the risk of transmission of the virus into our homes.

"This requires us to follow government guidance which restricts visiting.

"Unfortunately, despite the family having signed their agreement to our visiting policy following their mother’s admission in April 2020 and attending several meetings to discuss visiting, the family have repeatedly breached our Covid-19 visiting policy, placing their mother, our other residents and staff at risk of harm.

"Since service of notice and a subsequent appeal hearing, the resident’s family continue to breach our visiting policy, and as recently as this weekend were observed in the grounds of the Home without permission, without having booked a visit and breaching national government lockdown restrictions.

"We categorically refute any suggestion that this was a ‘revenge eviction’ because their daughter raised concerns on a Facebook site.

"We operate an open door policy and the manager welcomes all residents and their families to raise concerns directly at any time so that these can be addressed.

"Unfortunately, our reasonable requests to adhere to our visiting policy has led to an irreconcilable breakdown in our relationship with the resident’s family.

"Our priority is and has always been the welfare of our residents.

"Whilst we were one of the first homes in England to put in place visitor restrictions in early March 2020 to protect our residents, we have worked tirelessly to facilitate contact between our residents and their loved ones.

"Between July and September we have arranged over 400 visits with a satisfaction rate of 98%.

"We would like to thank all our relatives for their continued support in following the government guidelines at this difficult time for all."