A senior care worker is campaigning for the right to visit her 83-year-old mother, who has vascular dementia.

Maria Czerkawskyj, whose first language is italian, is a resident at a care home in Edinburgh.

Heartbreaking footage shows her daughter, Anna Cunningham, 54, speaking to her mother through a window - her last resort since current coronavirus regulations prevent her from spending time with her mother any other way.

Speaking to The Herald, Anna Cunningham said the window visits are “useless”, “cruel”, and “totally inhumane.”

She said: “I used to visit mum every day, but she has vascular dementia and can no longer verbally communicate so putting her in front of a window is useless. How is this meant to be a meaningful visit?  Where is the dignity?

Ms Cunningham believes the Government has prioritised mass testing for students but has overlooked care home visits.

She added: “Nine months down the line and I'm still on the outside looking in. The ironic thing is I have worked in care for over 30 years and have key worker status to enter homes of other elderly people, yet I'm denied entry to visit mum.

“Precious time has been stolen and I don’t have time to wait.”

Ms Cunningham, from Edinburgh, has been campaigning with the group Care Home Relatives Scotland for the right to visit their loved ones in care homes.

She added: “It is totally inhumane and beyond cruel. My mum gets distressed every time I visit. 

“Key worker status for essential visiting should have been part of the plan with at least one family member, from the very start.

“This could well be mum’s last Christmas.”

HeraldScotland: Maria, 83, with daughter Anna and granddaughter CaitlinMaria, 83, with daughter Anna and granddaughter Caitlin

It comes as the campaign group has expressed fears that some 1,500 of Scotland's elderly could die alone ahead of Christmas while relatives remain banned from visiting care homes.

Speaking to the Sunday Mail, founder of Care Home Relatives Scotland group, Cathie Russell said: "I’ve spent much of this week in tears. Our loved ones are dying at the rate of more than 300 a week and they haven’t had any decent time or a wee hug from families since last March – not even one family caregiver, which was all we were asking for.

“It’s a human rights disaster – there will be around 1,500 deaths before Christmas as a result of Covid and non-Covid related conditions."

Ms Russell believes it is “completely unacceptable" that care home residents are dying frightened and alone, and claimed other countries had prioritised visiting relatives as part of their response to the pandemic.

She added: “With the average stay in a Scottish nursing home estimated at 13 months, what’s continuing to happen is a disaster.

“Through all the Scottish Government care home announcements, they’ve created an impression that people now see their relatives and can hold hands – but that’s very far from the reality for the overwhelming majority of us.”

Earlier this week, the Scottish Government vowed to introduce coronavirus testing of visitors over Christmas, with an initial roll-out in 12 care homes across four local authorities from December 7.

However, Ms Russell does not think this will go far enough to temper the damage already done.

She said: “Our understanding is that by Christmas, there will only be 24 care homes out of 1,100 with access to pregnancy-style lateral flow tests which give an instant result.

“Although we don’t know how it will actually be done, the majority of us who don’t get these will be offered the more common PCR tests for the three weeks around Christmas.

“To our complete dismay, the Scottish Government continues to make it clear to care homes that they don’t need to take part in testing or follow guidance.

“Scottish Care has also said the roll-out of testing will not be completed till the end of February – that will be almost a full year since we were locked out.

“On top of all this, Greater Glasgow and Lanarkshire haven’t had any indoor visiting since last March."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are working urgently with care homes and partners to ensure they can support safe visiting as much as possible.

“To help with that directly, alongside our support from NHS primary care and supplying PPE where needed, we have significantly expanded testing, which will include priority testing for designated care home visitors.”