Chorley community answers 'Help Me See My Mum' plea by smashing fundraising goal for visitor's pod at care home

A family so desperate to see their elderly mum has raised hundreds of pounds to build a state-of-the-art visitors ‘pod’ at her care home.

Friday, 13th November 2020, 3:45 pm

June Sullivan, 87, who lives at Jasmine Court in Botany Brow, Chorley, has only seen her daughter Lorraine twice since March, and in that time, has broken her hip, wrist and had an epileptic fit.

Lorraine says her mum’s dementia and Alzheimer's conditions have also greatly deteriorated over the past eight months, and she now struggles to communicate.

Lorraine, who works at Parkland’s High School in Chorley, said: “Usually me and my sister would both see her twice a week, my brother when he could, she’s got grandchildren who would visit, and friends would go.

Darren and James of JD Joinery

“So it’s been really, really hard, just awful not being able to see her in so long.

“When the Government said about allowing visits if there was a floor-to-ceiling pod, then I knew I had to do something.

“When I got the call the other week that she’d had a fit, I said to my sister, ‘the next time I see my mum is when she’s dead’, and that has really spurred me on.”

She added: “I saw something on Facebook about a man who’d built one for a nursing home and I thought it was an amazing idea.

Lorraine with her mum June before lockdown

“I was put in touch with JD Joinery and they said they’d provide the labour free of charge if we could get the materials.”

Lorraine launched a Go Fund Me page called Help Me See My Mum on Tuesday, and within 53 minutes, she’d hit her £250 target.

The total donations now stand at £680, which means that the pod can be fitted a specialist microphone system. Any money left over will go towards providing fun activities for the residents.

Lorraine said: “I’m absolutely made up, not just for my mum but for all the other families who will be able to use it at the home.

Lorraine with her mum June before lockdown

“Because we’ve got the extra money, we can have this all-singing, all-dancing telecoms system in the pod, which will really help people with dementia and Alzheimer's, because they often struggle to hold a phone or press a button, and a lot are hard of hearing.

“It also means that won’t have to wear a mask, which people with dementia can’t understand anyway, the pod can be wiped down quickly and easily, and the residents don’t have to have a nurse with them all the time, so that frees them up.”

Lorraine said: “Before lockdown, you could remind her who you were and when you sang, everything came back, but the last time we saw her, it was all just gobbledygook. She had no idea.

“Although the carers are brilliant, she’s not getting the same stimulation as before, she’s not getting the family interaction that’s so important.”

June and Johnny Sullivan on their wedding day

Lorraine added: “It’s a nightmare not being able to visit. It’s made me ill. I used to try video calls with her, but it was heartbreaking, she’d be looking at the back of the phone.

“I used to come off the call and go to bed with a migraine.

“All I want to do is hug my hug and hold her hand, but while I still can’t do that, this is a chink of light.”

The pod was built on Friday by brothers-in-law Danny Taylor and James Perkins of JD Joinery North West.

Danny said: “I’ve do a few charity things, with the likes of Derian House and the North West Air Ambulance, so when I heard about this, I wanted to be involved. It’s the right thing to do. It’s a nice feeling to know what you’re doing is going to benefit so many people.”

It is hoped the pod will open this week, with Lorraine and her mum the first to use it.

James Perkins and Danny Taylor of JD Joinery installing the pod

June, who lived in Astley Village before moving to Jasmine Court four years ago, was married to Johnny Sullivan, British and Empire middleweight boxing champion, until his death in 2003. She has three children, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

What are the Government guidelines?

The Government has issued new guidance to care homes in England saying all residents should be allowed Covid-secure visits, using visitor pods, window visits or outdoor visits with one person.

Care homes can use external visitor pods where the visitor and resident enter through different entrances and visitors do not need to enter the care home.

Residents can also have window visits or the visitor can remain in the car socially distanced from the resident.