Labour's Health and Social Care spokesperson Monica Lennon has lent her support to a new campaign appealing for families to be reunited with their relatives in care homes. 

Hundreds of relatives around Scotland have joined forces in the Broken Hearts Awareness Raising Campaign, which saw MSPs across Scotland receive letters and posters from constituents asking for their support for Anne’s Law.

The legislation, named for Anne Duke who is 63 and has dementia, would give care home residents the right to see at least one caregiving relative regardless of lockdown or levels.

A petition from Anne's daughter Natasha Hamilton has been signed by 92,000 people comes before the petitions committee on Wednesday, 10th February.

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MSPs are being asked to wear badges in support of the Broken Hearts Campaign in Parliament next week.

Throwing her weight behind the campaign, MSP Monica Lennon said: “We know that care homes were at the epicentre of the crisis and that decisions were taken at a government level that led to the virus getting into care homes and causing devastating tragedy and loss of life.

“But aside from the direct harms of the virus, people are also being harmed due to isolation and loneliness.

“Family care givers are equal partners in the care of their loved ones, they used to be, but because of the Scottish Government’s approach, family members and other care givers have been locked out of care homes and there’s a hidden catastrophe behind the locked doors of our care homes.

“People have died alone and it needs to stop.”

Cathie Russell, co-founder of Care Home Relatives Scotland explained that almost a year own since the first lockdown relatives should not still be kept out from care homes.

She explained: "We have PPE, testing and now most residents have had the first vaccine and it is now time to reunite us with those who have survived the last year.

“We have had numerous meetings with Jeane Freeman, Cabinet Secretary for Health but we are still locked out - trying to see our loved ones through closed windows or looking at bewildered faces on video calls.

"Thousands have died without the company and touch of their loved ones in their final weeks and months.”

She added: “We have been last out of every other lock down - but we should be first out of this one as the care homes are the only communities with such high levels of vaccination.

"With the other safety measures including good Infection control, PPE and lateral flow tests, managers should have the confidence to enable safe, meaningful family contact.

"It is important that people can sit alongside each other, look at photos or listen to favourite music and have a chat in privacy.

"Sitting behind screens and police tape two to three metres away is no use - our loved ones are not prisoners."

The campaign is calling for meaningful change that will mean families are no longer deprived of the right to care for their loved ones. 

HeraldScotland:

“If we don’t see a really determined push to make this happen in February, we will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to see our loved ones again", Ms Russell added.

"The first-year anniversary of our separation is fast approaching and we will make absolutely certain it does not go unnoticed.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We understand the severe impact this pandemic has had on people’s lives across Scotland and the distress it has caused for people living in care homes and their loved ones. We are acutely aware of the importance of visits for the wellbeing of residents and their friends and family.

"That’s why the Health Secretary has met with, and will continue to meet with, relatives of residents in Care Homes. We will reply to the letter very soon and the Health Secretary will again meet with the relatives group shortly.

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“The Health Secretary has been clear that essential visits should continue to be supported at all stages of the pandemic, in all areas, no matter the current level.

"There is a need to balance the safety of residents against the need for them to spend time with their families – Ministers have been clear on the crucial importance of both these factors.

"In consultation with relatives and care home providers, we are now nearing completion on plans to resume indoor visiting based on the level 4 restrictions in place across mainland Scotland, with increased staff testing, visitor testing and our vaccination programme, which has now given 99% of older care home residents their first dose. These plans will be published shortly.”