Ruthie Henshall heartbreak: She’s unable to see her mother in lockdown – ‘unbearable pain’

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In her only newspaper interview about the access scandal, West End star and I’m A Celebrity contestant Ruthie, 53, said that lockdown had effectively ended Gloria’s life. She said of her own agony: “It’s worse than guilt. It’s actually unbearable pain because I know my mother is dying. A little bit of her is going every day, every week.

“I feel like I am mourning the loss of someone who has not actually died. And I feel in perpetual grief, stuck in a cycle that you can’t do anything about.

“I have no way of making my mum’s life better. It’s hard enough her being in a home, but this is like a lump of grief I carry around every single day.”

Former teacher Gloria has been in Spring Lodge care home, Ipswich, for three years.

Ruthie praised her “amazing” carers but said: “I just want them to get the support they deserve.”

Before Covid struck, Gloria had regular visitors and was lucid and communicative.

But since lockdown her condition has slipped rapidly.

Her daughter says it is because she is crippled with loneliness and isolation.

Ruthie, who is patron of the charity Suffolk Family Carers, has joined campaign group Rights for Residents to push for emergency laws to recognise families as essential carers, which would guarantee access.

Ruthie said: “My father died in April and at the time my sisters and I had a full conversation with Mum about how sad she was.

“That was the last time I spoke to her properly.

“By the time I saw her again it was in a tent outside between a plastic partition.

“She can’t walk or talk, save for the odd word, and has to be fed with her food mushed up.

“The carers and home are doing the absolute best they can. The problem is the dire situation. What people don’t seem to understand is that we are essential carers.

“I want to be able to feed her and to paint her nails, because all she has left is touch.

“If that was my child in there I would fight and do whatever I could.

“So I will fight to be let in and have the last remaining part of her life filled with conversation and touch.”

Gloria received her first Covid jab last week but it will be another three months before she gets her second.

Ruthie, who has two children, Lily, 17, and 15-year-old Dolly, said: “The last time she saw me her joy was unbridled.

“She sat there and smiled and said, ‘Ruthie, Ruthie – I love you’.

“But my mother is on a stop clock, the grains of sand are disappearing, and she only has a finite amount of time left.

“These people have no voice. They can’t stand outside manning pickets so we have to speak up for them. I am devastated by the indecision of this Government.

“There is no risk-free solution. But we have to balance the risk of Covid against people like my mum dying of isolation and loneliness. So many of us just want to be able to go in for a couple of hours a week.

“We will take tests, wear PPE, do whatever is necessary. Why isn’t anyone listening to us?”

Jenny Morrison, 55, of Rights for Residents, said: “Care home residents will soon face a grim anniversary.

“In March it will be one year since meaningful contact with loved ones was allowed.

“Many have spent their last birthday, anniversary and Christmas alone. There is no opportunity for them to reschedule and tragically for too many it’s already too late.

“The only time our loved ones will get to hold our hands is while taking their last breath. How can this be humane?”

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