Ruthie Henshall finally holds mum's hand in 'incredibly moving' care home visit

Ruthie Henshall visiting her mum, Gloria, at Spring Lodge care home in Woolverstone

Ruthie Henshall visiting her mum, Gloria, at Spring Lodge care home in Woolverstone - Credit: Kingsley Healthcare

West End star Ruthie Henshall has described the “incredibly moving” moment she finally got to hold the hand of her mother Gloria, 87, at a Suffolk care home.

Ruthie was able to pay her first visit to Spring Lodge care home, in Woolverstone, near Ipswich, under the government’s new Covid regulations.

The actress has been leading a national campaign calling on the government to relax rules over care home visits, to allow them to happen indoors with closer contact. 

Following the visit to her mother, who is suffering from dementia, she said: “I had a couple of hours with her and was able to feed her lunch, brush her hair, read to her and play a song or two on video.

“For her, touch is her communication and you can see the difference being touched makes to her.”

Gloria Henshall and Ruthie

Ruthie Henshall and her mum Gloria before lockdown forced them apart as care home visits were suspended - Credit: Ruthie Henshall

The government is now allowing care home residents in England to receive indoor visits from one nominated friend or relative,  in a guidance change which was introduced from March 8 onwards, as part of lockdown easing. 

Residents with the highest care needs can receive more frequent visits from a loved one who will provide essential care and support, and as a result Ruthie has become part of her mother's care team.

Ruthie, who recently appeared on I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here!, praised the staff and the quality of care at Spring Lodge which “being a smaller home is a lot more like a family”. 

But she said the government’s restrictions on care home visits had been difficult for people living with dementia as they needed the stimulation of family visits.

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She said: "It was incredibly moving for me, but heart-breaking as well.

“The last time I was able to have a similar visit I was having a conversation with her. Now she can only make the occasional sound.”

Since last October, Ruthie has only been able to keep in touch with her mum by window visits and video calls due to the government restrictions.

She said: “Normally, everything is going on in the lounge of a care home; people with dementia need that stimulation provided by visitors..”

Daya Thayan, chief executive of Kingsley Healthcare, which runs Spring Lodge, has been supportive of families’ wishes, urging the government to open up visits as soon as it was safe to do so.

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