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After a fall, my mother went to stay in a care home, and she was lonely at first. Then she discovered three years’ of text messages between me and my sister

If you could call anywhere the canary in the coalmine of incompetence and chaos, it would be care homes. At the start of the coronavirus crisis, it was the health secretary, Matt Hancock, and his “protective ring”, which, in reality, meant insufficient testing, inadequate PPE and mass do-not-resuscitate orders because, come on, if you don’t try to save people’s lives, who can truthfully say you failed? By mid-June, care homes were the high-water mark of the tragedy, with more than 16,000 dead in that one setting. Recently, the appalling cost of mismanagement on a human level has been apparent in these homes: patients with dementia losing the will to live without family visits, a government unable to muster a response to Covid and also blinded by it, apparently devoid of feeling for anyone with anything other than coronavirus.

In the midst of it all, my mother ended up in a care home, following an event that we would normally call falling over but, for reasons of endemic ageism (in my view), we now call “having a fall”. The two days she spent in hospital were worse in terms of visiting, since not only could my sister and I not see her, but we could feel the hot anxiety of the nursing staff as we hovered outside the door trying to pass her a power bank for her phone.

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