A Cork woman is pleading for more compassionate care for the elderly, and has warned that the mental health toll on those left behind will be huge if their family member dies alone.
Bernadette Walshe’s mum, Patricia Murphy, does not have Covid-19 but has been subject to the restrictions on visitors in her final days, as have many other patients across the country.
Ms Walshe said that she understands that there are guidelines that need to be adhered to when it comes to caring for people during the Covid-19 pandemic, however, she said that there is also a human element to it also.
She pled to let her father Bartholemew, who’s nearly 91 and has Alzheimer's, to get to say goodbye to his wife.
“People are suffering. There’s no closure. We’re living in a twilight zone,” she said.
As she was speaking to The Echo, Bernadette was waiting for her mother to be brought home to live out her last days, as were her wishes.
“I’m doing this for my mother. She is in palliative care and in a coma. She wanted to come home as her dying wish. And the most distressing part of all this is I can sit outside a hospital and know that my mother was inside all alone dying,” Ms Walshe said.
“Demand the right to bring your loved ones home if you can get the care around them,” she added.
She also praised all of the staff at CUH who have worked so hard for her mother and other patients, who are also grieving for patients themselves during Covid-19 especially.
“They’re talking about a second wave of Covid coming. They said they’re getting prepared., but how many more people are going to have to suffer unnecessarily because they can’t stand and hold a loved one's hand as they pass on?
“There is no medication that is going to fix the mental health issues that are being thrust upon us.” Bernadette’s mum Patricia Murphy, who was a nurse herself in her younger years, had wanted to highlight “how the elderly were being disregarded by society” and said her mother encouraged her to speak up and speak out about these issues.
“This is not just about my mother or my father next. This is about every single person who gets lost in the cracks of a broken healthcare system. I am going to become their voice,” she said.
Ms Walshe has previously spoken to The Echo regarding the treatment of her elderly parents in overcrowded hospital situations. Her father had to seek counselling for repeated traumatic experiences in CUH, and he also had difficulty getting her mother a bed in CUH when it was feared she was having a stroke.
Bernadette has called on whatever new Government is formed to ensure the elderly get priority: “These are the people who built this nation. These are the people who are looking for nothing but a rite of passage to death with love and respect, knowing they’re not dying alone.
“The only difference (in the health system) between prior to Covid and Covid is you were able to access your loved ones,” she added.
Asked about the issues facing the elderly in the health service, Ms Walshe said: “Don’t tell me for one second it’s because of Covid. It’ll be something else tomorrow and something else down the line, but you don’t leave a dying person on their own. You would sit with your dog if your dog was dying. Human life supersedes that.”