HEARTBREAKING footage shows the moment care home staff read a family's goodbye letter to a gran-of-five before she died of coronavirus.
Peggy lost her battle with Covid-19 at Philia Lodge in Peterborough after her loved ones were denied a final farewell due to risk of infection.
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Instead, they paid tribute to the grandmother in letters read aloud by care staff who were wearing face masks and gloves.
The first letter, from Peggy's daughter, read: "Mum, I am so sorry I can't be with you at this time but don't be frightened – dad will be with you.
"I am sure he has been waiting for you to join him for quite a while.
"I just want you to know how much you are loved by us all. You are the best mum ever.
"I learnt so much about being the best mum I could be from you and I've passed on those values to my girls and they are also a credit to you as they are the best mums too.
Mum, I am so sorry I can't be with you at this time but don't be frightened – dad will be with you.
"I will miss you so much. I love you my mum, rest in peace, you so deserve it."
A second letter was from the woman's grand-daughter.
It read: "Dear Grandma, you wouldn't believe what's happening in the country at the moment.
"I can only imagine what Grandad would say about it.
"If there's one thing I'm happy about is that you've finally found your peace.
"I'm so extremely proud to call you my grandma."
The footage was released by the care home as Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced families would now be given the "right to say goodbye".
Heidi Seldon, who is the manager of the facility in Peterborough, said six residents there have died in just eight days.
She is now sleeping in her office to remain with her residents.
Heidi said: "What I wasn't prepared for was how hard it was going to be, emotionally, watching so many of my residents suffering from coronavirus.
"We're just trying to hold ourselves together.
CARE HOME TRAGEDY
"Hopefully there will be some light at the end of the tunnel and tomorrow will be a better day."
Chris Graham, regional director for Trust Care Management which runs Philia Lodge care home, said they had found the outbreak "particularly difficult".
He added: "It has been very difficult stopping or family members saying goodbyes to their loved ones in person.
"We've tried to be innovative in using social media, letters, facetime and skype.
"We have also facilitated family coming to stand outside the home and have a conversation through the window complying with social distancing."
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Meanwhile, as many as 4,000 care home residents may have already lost their lives to coronavirus without deaths being officially recorded, experts have warned.
New figures show 217 residents in nursing homes in England and Wales have died from coronavirus in the 14 days leading up to April 3.
However, Care England and the Alzheimer’s Society believe the death toll within care facilities is being under-reporterd because of a lack of testing.
Mike Padgham, from the Independent Care Group, said he believes 4,000 residents could have already died from coronavirus.
He added this is consistent with nursing homes deaths in other countries who are currently battling Covid-19.
He told the Daily Mail: “These people are in a very vulnerable group, they may have underlying conditions and they’re in close proximity so it’s being spread quicker.
“We don’t think the Government are doing enough and now they’ve been caught out.
“They didn’t fix the roof on social care when the sun was shining and now it’s too late.”MPs as well as care industry campaigners have warned of an “unfolding horror” that could claim the lives of thousands of victims.
Based on the ONS figures, the Alzheimer’s Society estimates there have been at least 2,500 deaths from nursing homes.
The charity’s campaigns director Sally Copley said: “It strikes us that these deaths from coronavirus are the iceberg, and the hospital figures just the tip.
“The evidence from Europe shows more than 40 per cent of all deaths relating to coronavirus occur in care homes.”
Care homes are complaining they are being overlooked by UK authorities and are in desperate need for safety equipment for their staff.
The government is facing calls to roll out more tests are nursing facilities and to provide more protective gear for workers.
Cambridge University professor Sir David Spiegelhalter said emergency laws which enable doctors to certify deaths without being present, due to risk of infection, meant they may be less inclined to record the virus on the death certificate.
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