Ruthie Henshall’s elderly mother Gloria has passed away aged 87 after spending Britain’s lockdown in a care home.
The West End star confirmed the news in a tweet shared with her followers on Tuesday afternoon, little more than a week after detailing the impact lockdown has had on her mother’s health.
In a lengthy post, Ruthie, 54, lashed out at the government for implementing guidelines that prevented the actress and her family from giving Gloria the care she urgently needed at the height of UK quarantine.
Sad news: Ruthie Henshall’s elderly mother Gloria has passed away aged 87 after spending Britain’s lockdown in a care home
She wrote: ‘My beautiful mummy Gloria passed away very peacefully early this morning. I managed to care for her for a few short weeks.
‘It was my honour and my privilege. If the government had made their guidance law my sisters would have seen her more than a couple of times before losing her.
‘Even recently my sister Susan was doing window visits because she wasn’t able to get an indoor visit for 3 weeks. Spring Lodge, the care home my mother was in, followed the guidance but still there are care home providers and managers that are not.’
Hitting out: In a lengthy post, Ruthie, 54, lashed out at the government for implementing guidelines that prevented the actress and her family from giving Gloria the care she urgently needed
Farewell: The actress shared a final picture of her mother while confirming her death on Tuesday
She added: ‘It remains a postcode lottery. My sister Susan is angry and devastated that she only got 2 indoor visits before my mother died.
This was completely and totally unnecessary. Utterly inhumane to these beautiful residents who are not really living much of a life.’
Hitting out at the policies that affected her mother’s care during the final months of her life, she added: ‘Still socially distanced as much as possible during the day and unable to have anything like meaningful visits with loved ones.
‘This to me is a crime being committed. Without the guidance being law some care home providers are allowing an abuse of residents human rights to meaningful contact with their loved ones.
Happier times: Ruthie with mum Gloria and sister Abigail
‘I was Gloria’s essential care giver for her last weeks. I read to her, sang to her, cuddled her, fed her, massaged her hands and feet and told her I loved her at least 20 times a visit.
‘Each time I hugged her she moaned with delight. All she had left was touch. She couldn’t walk, talk or eat solid food.
‘Just one essential care giver by law to every resident would give unlimited joy, love and peace of mind and take a huge strain off the brilliant carers who get paid mostly minimum wage.
‘Shame on every government official and care home provider that decided to ignore residents’ human rights and just batten down the hatches. You kept out love and hope.
‘I am devastated. I hope it was worth the cost to keep them behind locked doors?’
‘What does she have left but touch?’ Ruthie spoke on GMB on May 4th about her mother’s decline after living in a care home
Ruthie had previously detailed the impact spending lockdown in a care home had on her mother as she campaigned to make visits a legal right.
The actress was speaking on Good Morning Britain on May 4th when she described how Gloria had deteriorated during her spell in her care home.
Ruthie said: ‘Before lockdown, she was walking and talking, had a full on conversation the day before my father died.
‘When the restrictions were put in place, for four months she was on her own in her care home… She couldn’t walk, couldn’t talk, her food had to be mushed up, her drinks had to be thickened.
‘You expect some form of deterioration, but not like that.’
Ruthie was appearing on the show to talk about the campaign group Rights For Residents aiming to put pressure on the Government to make visits to care homes a legal right.
She said that as an essential carer, she currently gets good access to her mother in her care home.
‘But for others,’ she said, ‘it’s a post code lottery. Some care homes are not taking up guidelines for fear.
There for her: Ruthie has been classified as an essential carer for her mother, meaning she is allowed to visit her in her care home
‘As far as I’m concerned, where are the human rights of the residents? There’s some people that haven’t seen their loved ones in 14 months.’
Ruthie also said that she doesn’t understand why carers are allowed to go into the rooms of multiple patients and then go home and see their families, but her sisters are not allowed an extended period of time with her mother.
She said: ‘My sisters get one visit every three, four weeks for half an hour. That’s not meaningful behind the screen, my mother has no idea what’s going on.
‘I think I’m safer, I’m going straight to my mother’s room… she needs touch. She can’t sleep, she can’t walk, she needs to be fed… what does she have left but touch?
‘We all know, after being starved from human touch for over a year, we know how important it is.’
Despite her mother’s decline, Ruthie said she was told by carers at the home that ‘the light is back on’ in her mother’s eye after she was able to visit.
Naddra Ahmmed, the Chair of the National Care Association, also appeared on the show and said that the well-being of care home residents was at the centre of everything that they do.
She said: ‘We do follow the guidance give to us, and if you read the guidance, it is very clear, that it rests on the shoulders of the provider to ensure all the safety mechanisms that need to be in place before they facilitate any visits.
‘And I think most providers are trying to do that as far as they possibly can.’
Speaking to the Mirror, Ruthie also revealed that, after being made an essential carer, she had taken a before and after picture showing the day she walked in to visit her mother, and five weeks later.
Postcode lottery: Despite being an essential carer for her mother, Ruthie said that not everyone is so fortunate and so are not able to visit their loved ones in care homes
She said her mother looked 10 years younger in the latter photograph.
At the beginning of this month Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a U-Turn on cruel rules forcing anyone who leaves the confines of their care home to isolate alone for 14 days on their return.
From Tuesday, the UK’s 400,000 care residents will be allowed to go on trips outside with friends and family without having to self-isolate afterwards.
They will be able to visit a friend or family member’s garden, or go on walks in parks, public gardens and beaches.
For many, it will be the first time in over a year they have left their care homes. The change in guidance will also allow residents to vote in Thursday’s local elections in person.
This isn’t the first time that Ruthie has spoken out about visitation rights at care homes.
In February, said she would ‘fight for the right’ to see her dementia-stricken mother in her care home after an upsetting Facetime call.
She said her mother Gloria, who’s in her eighties, ‘never said a word or even smiled’ during the call – as she vowed to continue to push for people to be allowed to visit elderly relatives in care homes during lockdown.
Henshall told her followers on Twitter: ‘I had a Facetime with my mum Gloria today. She never said a word or even smiled. I am going on BBC news and ITV news this week to fight for the right to see my mummy.’
Campaigning: Ruthie was appearing on Good Morning Britain in support of the campaign group Rights for Residents