May I offer my heartfelt condolences to Emma Hardy? There is nothing worse than losing a member of your family that you love, and the reason I am here today is to speak on behalf of a mother in my constituency who also lost someone very dear to her—her 21-year-old son, Jamie. Jamie represents a cohort that often falls through the cracks in care, not just during a pandemic but in everyday existence. It is the cohort of working-age disabled adults in long-term residential care.
Jamie’s mother battled for him from the day of his birth to ensure that he had the care and provision that he needed to succeed. She was a teacher, and she is a local community champion. During lockdown, she was denied access to her son. She was unable to visit him and watched in horror as his health and situation deteriorated day by day. He became catatonic, refused to eat, and developed open wounds and bed sores. It was not until lockdown ended that she was able to have access to her son, her only son, but by that point it was too late. Jamie had passed away the week before.
I had been unaware of the situation that Jamie was in, and I am speaking today to raise awareness so that other family members may have access and special visitation rights to a child who is in adult social care and who is struggling during the pandemic. I hope that my speaking about Jamie will help them to get that access and that we will remember to have humanity and compassion for those who are vulnerable and suffering during the pandemic. As a mother myself, I cannot imagine not being able to see my child. I know that many Members in this House have older children, and perhaps they will testify that parenting does not stop at 18 or at 21. You are a parent to your child forever, and to be unable to help and advocate for a child with complex disabilities who cannot speak for themselves is a tragedy. I am here to speak on Jamie’s behalf so that others will have a voice.
I am so grateful for the Government’s announcement that a vaccine is coming and that a mass roll-out of testing is being organised. That will go a long way to help the most vulnerable, but I want this very small cohort to be remembered. I want safeguarding measures to be put in place. As we go into the winter months, we must remember that this patient cohort needs additional support, care and patient advocacy, and that the parents need visitation rights so that they can speak on behalf of those who have no voice.
I would like to pay special tribute to the Minister for Care, my hon. Friend Helen Whately, for her work behind the scenes on this issue. She has spent a great deal of time helping and assisting, and she does not get the credit she deserves for trying to advocate for this patient cohort and raising the need for additional support. I thank her, and I thank the Minister here today for answering our questions during this debate. I would also ask that perhaps in future Ministers from other Departments could come to the House to respond to the covid-19 general debates, so that we can ask specific questions and tailor our debate perhaps towards education or the Treasury—