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Desperate plea Family wants more visits to 91-year old mum who got Covid days after first vaccine shot

Daughter Polly was only allowed inside to see her mum on compassionate grounds last Monday for the first time since December 7.

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Jill Donnellan pictured during a visit in 2019 with her daughters at the nursing home where she lives.

Jill Donnellan pictured during a visit in 2019 with her daughters at the nursing home where she lives.

Jill Donnellan pictured during a visit in 2019 with her daughters at the nursing home where she lives.

A 91-year old mum who contracted Covid-19 just days after she received the first vaccine shot seems to be pulling through, according to her daughter who is hoping to be allowed more bedside visits at her nursing home.

Jill Donnellan is still on oxygen after battling the virus since January 28th but her daughter Polly fears that her ability to fight has been affected by a downhill deterioration in her health since last March.

Over the rolling lockdowns, Polly and her sister Philippa have been erecting a pop-up tent, to protect them from the elements, at the window of her nursing home in Co. Kilkenny where Jill has lived since 2017.

The sisters even adorned the tent with lights and decorated and lit up a tree outside to mark Christmas for their mum, who they say has lost a lot of her memory because of being largely isolated due to restrictive Covid-19 measures.

Jill was once a very active lady who accompanied her BBC director husband Philip Donnellan on some of his adventures over the years, and loved to hear stories of Polly's dragon boat exploits and kayaking trips later in life.

The couple originally lived in England but moved to Cork's Passage West in 1994 where Philip died five years later.

Jill lived for a time with her daughter Polly until health issues demanded full-time care.

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Jill Donnellan, pictured at her 90th birthday in 2019

Jill Donnellan, pictured at her 90th birthday in 2019

Jill Donnellan, pictured at her 90th birthday in 2019

Polly, who was only allowed inside to see her mum on compassionate grounds last Monday for the first time since December 7th, said that at one stage she didn't think her mum was going to make it.

"Mum developed Covid-19 just five or six days after getting the first vaccine shot. Now she will have to get both shots again when she is well enough," she said.

"When she got Covid I really thought it was a death sentence.

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"I thought she was going to die, but she is slowly pulling through thanks to the care of the nursing home staff who have been exceptional.

"We have been having window visits with her for the last year. I have a brother and sister abroad who have been regularly video calling her on WhatsApp and my sister and I have been putting up a pop-up tent outside where we would sit and chat by the window

"We created a garden outside her window with pots of plants built up on concrete blocks to her eye-level and hanging baskets which bloomed right through the summer.

"Before Covid I used to sit with her in her room three times a week and knit or make jigsaws together or just be able to tidy away her things and talk and read to her.

"Because of the lockdowns, no-one has been let in and she has been completely under stimulated and bored because of the lack of visitors.

"She has been sitting in that one room for nearly a year only leaving it briefly about three times over that period. She has lost a lot of her memory during that time and it's just been awful seeing her deteriorate and not being able to do anything.

"She is still on oxygen and not too talkative at the moment. It's extremely sad. She used to be a woman who painted and wallpapered houses, rowed boats and brought us camping and now she is a very frail wheelchair user who we can't even visit, except in exceptional circumstances.

"All we want is to see our mum regularly and for her to know that we are there for her, especially as she recovers now.

"Surely it should be possible to have one or two nominated visitors fully dressed in PPE, sanitised and temperature taken who are allowed to enter the home to see their family. We want to boost her memory and hopefully stimulate her and give some reason for living."

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Jill pictured with her daughter Polly

Jill pictured with her daughter Polly

Jill pictured with her daughter Polly

The combined groups Care Champions and Voices for the Elderly are planning a day or remembrance on March 6th - the first anniversary of the last day of indoor visits at nursing homes - to acknowledge all those who have died since.

"While we applaud the government's initiative to prioritise vaccinations in nursing homes, many people have lost and continue to lose loved ones on a daily basis and many times they are only granted the right to watch them die through a window.

"The right to visitation in nursing homes is now compassion - it is a human right.

"We are calling on our government to immediately put in place a proper communication system between nursing homes and families with specific liaison officers

"We acknowledge and thank staff in some homes who have done an extraordinary job throughout the pandemic, but they are not in the majority.

"On March 6th, Care Champions are holding a day of remembrance to acknowledge the anniversary of the last day of indoor visits and to acknowledge those we have lost.

"Pictures can be sent to betheirvoice2x2x2campaign@gmail.com to be included in the video and candles will be lit at 8pm to remember all the people lost in the last year."

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