Family plead for change to care home rules after daughter's arrest

Ylenia Angeli, 73, was detained after trying to remove mother, 97, from east Yorkshire care home

The family of a retired nurse who was arrested for trying to take her 97-year-old mother out of a care home before lockdown have pleaded with the government to relax rules on care home visits.

Ylenia Angeli, 73, was detained by police after trying to remove her mother, who has dementia, from a care home in east Yorkshire.

In distressing footage posted online, Angeli can be seen handcuffed inside a patrol car while her elderly mother, Tina Thornborough, is seated in the front of the family car.

Humberside police later said they had responded to reports of an assault and Angeli was subsequently de-arrested and allowed home. Thornborough was returned to the care home in Market Weighton.

Downing Street said it recognised there had been “distressing scenes” during the arrest.

Angeli’s daughter, the former Coronation Street star Leandra Ashton, 42, who filmed the footage and could be heard sobbing in the background, described the situation as a Kafkaesque nightmare.

Ashton had gone to the home with her mother for their final window visit after having no physical contact with her grandmother for nine months.

She said: “My mum pushed into the care home to hug my grandma who has dementia. She then quietly wheeled her out. My mum is a trained nurse and wished to care for my nan at home, but we only have power of attorney for my nan’s finances and not for her wellbeing, so my mum was arrested because she refused to take my nan back to the care home.”

Ashton said her family, who had written countless letters to MPs, the health secretary, Public Health England and the care home about visits to her grandmother, did not blame the police.

She said: “When you are repeatedly told ‘we’re just following the rules’, and those rules have kept you away from your loved one for about nine months, you question those rules. The police were as kind as they could be, they had a hard job. I thank them for trying their best and de-arresting my mum. The issues are with the guidelines.

“When the rules – like so many in this period of our history – are purporting to be in place to protect but yet are causing untold damage to physical and mental health, then you start breaking the rules. I find myself for the first time in my life on the wrong side of the law.”

The government was forced into a last minute U-turn on Wednesday allowing care home residents visits from family members during the English lockdown.

The health secretary, Matt Hancock, acknowledged it had been “heartbreaking” for families not to see loved ones. Less than three weeks ago the government had said visiting should be stopped in areas with tier 2 and tier 3 lockdown restrictions, apart from in exceptional circumstances such as the end of life.

Ashton called on the government to go further, giving relatives key-worker status so they could visit regularly.

Leandra Ashton with her nan, Tina Thornborough, in Shetland in summer 2018.
Leandra Ashton with her nan, Tina Thornborough, in Shetland in summer 2018. Photograph: Alex Cousins/family

She said: “They need to be allowed into their relative’s private bedroom to visit, feed and care for their loved ones. It is my hope that if enough of us live from our hearts, act from our hearts and speak our truth fearlessly from our hearts, this inhumane situation will come to an end.”

Humberside police’s assistant chief constable, Chris Noble, said these were incredibly difficult circumstances and his force sympathised with all families in this position.

He said: “We responded to a report of an assault at the care home, which is legally responsible for the woman’s care and who were concerned for her wellbeing. As was our legal duty, we returned the lady to the home, and a 73-year-old woman who was initially arrested was de-arrested and allowed to return home with her daughter.

“We understand that this is an emotional and difficult situation for all those involved and will continue to provide whatever support we can to both parties.”

A Downing Street spokesman said: “We absolutely understand how difficult the current situation is for families and those with loved ones in care homes, and that’s why we’re publishing new guidance to enable more visits to take place.”

The spokesman said there was not a “one-size-fits-all answer, unfortunately,” on whether families could take their loved ones out of care homes. “But it does have to be done in a way that’s Covid-secure because of the risk to residents, family members and staff, and we need to ensure they are kept safe,” he said.


Nazia Parveen North of England correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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