Northern Ireland news

Woman considering legal action over care home visits 'restrictions' during pandemic

The High Court in Belfast

THE daughter of a woman with dementia is considering legal action over an alleged restriction on visits to her care home during the pandemic.

Martina Ferguson claims months of limited access to her mother Ursula Derry at residential facilities in Co Armagh may have breached their human rights.

Concerns have also been raised over the level of care being provided.

Mrs Ferguson is exploring a potential judicial review challenge against the Four Seasons Health Care as funders of the home, her lawyers disclosed.

In a statement KRW Law alleged that since the introduction of the first lockdown her mother has been living in "a world without hugs and kisses".

The pensioner suffers from late-stage dementia and is unable to communicate fully due to severe cognitive impairment.

Before the Covid-19 crisis her daughter made daily visits to the home and tucked her into bed every night, according to her legal team.

Mrs Ferguson was also said to have helped ensure her personal hygiene in arrangements which were a source of great comfort.

But the level of access has allegedly been severely restricted since March.

In July she was admitted to hospital, with her daughter "heartbroken" at discovering her state of hygiene, it was claimed.

An investigation was commenced after Mrs Ferguson made a report to the care home and the trust.

High Court proceedings are now being considered over decisions about both access to her mother and the level of care.

Christopher Doran of KRW Law said: "We find ourselves in uncharted waters with some fundamental human rights at play.

"It is imperative we carefully navigate our way between protecting the elderly from the threat of COVID-19 whilst ensuring vital family interaction for those suffering from mental illnesses such as dementia.

This is not something we can afford to get wrong."

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