A woman has revealed she was left devastated after she was told waving to her 80-year-old father through his care home window was ‘illegal’ by staff.
Oriana Criscuolo, 46, from Stockport, wanted to drop off some treats for her father Attilio, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease and dementia, at Bamford Grange care home earlier this month.
After handing over the supplies to the carer at the front door, she said that she was going to pop over to her dad’s window to wave at him, but claims she was told it would be ‘illegal’ to do so.
A stunned Oriana then attempted to walk over to her father’s ground-floor window, only to find the curtains had been shut, despite it being the middle of the day.
She has since tried to visit a second time, but her father’s curtains have remained closed, revealing: ‘It’s just unbelievable. I cannot understand how care home staff – people who are being paid to care – have become so uncaring. Their behaviour is inhumane and cruel. It’s beyond belief.’
Maria Percival at Four Seasons Health Care Group, the company that owns the home, has promised to investigate the matter.
Oriana said she began dropping off treats for her father after growing increasingly concerned by his weight loss during the pandemic.
She explained: ‘It’s been difficult knowing what food to bring my dad because care home staff keep telling me he’s not able to eat certain things due to him having trouble swallowing and suffering from choking fits.
‘In the past, I’ve brought him home-made pasta dishes, cakes, biscuits and chocolate, which he tells me he rarely gets.
‘When I’ve asked about this, the staff say he’s not always able to eat the stuff I bring, but they never tell me what actually happens to the food he doesn’t get. I’m guessing they must throw it away.’
This has been a worry for Air B&B host Oriana, because her father has lost a huge amount of weight since being admitted to the care home in March 2020 after a bout of pneumonia, dropping at one point from his usual 74 kgs to a dangerously low 40 kgs.
She said: ‘The staff tell me my dad eats a lot and that he often has double portions so I don’t know why the weight’s falling off him.
‘I made a formal complaint a few months ago and, since then, the weight is slowly going back on.
‘He’s now up to 50 kgs. I bring him extra food to help build him up. He’s so skinny.’
Last Thursday, nobody knew that Oriana was planning to come but she didn’t think it would be an issue.
She explained: ‘I was out shopping and decided on a whim to pick up some bits for my dad. He’s been getting pretty depressed at the home since the latest lockdown, so I try to pop by whenever I can.’
When Oriana has brought food for her dad in the past, she’d drop it at the front door, then stop by his window to give him a wave and she planned to do the same last week.
After handing over the supplies to the carer at the front door, she told the member of staff that she was going to pop over to her dad’s window to wave at him.
The carer told her that the rules had changed and that visitors were no longer allowed to do that.
‘I laughed at first,’ Oriana recalled, ‘and told the carer not to be silly. I thought she was joking.
‘That’s when the carer told me that if I went to wave at my dad, I’d be breaking the law – she actually suggested that waving at him through his window was illegal.’
The carer disappeared inside the home, and the care home manager came out to speak to Oriana.
Oriana said: ‘The manager confirmed that waving through residents’ window was against the law – and that I wasn’t to do it under any circumstances.
‘I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I was lost for words.’
The manager continued talking, explaining that it wasn’t her decision to ban waving and that it was the local authority that had made the new rule.
‘I just stared in disbelief,’ confessed Oriana. ‘The Covid restrictions at the home are hard enough to accept as it is, but this was insult to injury.
‘I was feeling a bit frustrated by this stage so I angrily said ‘b****cks to that – I’m going to wave at my dad!’ and strode off across the car park.’
When Oriana reached the window of her dad’s room, however, the curtains had been pulled tightly shut.
She said: ‘I couldn’t believe it. His curtains were drawn so I couldn’t wave to him!
‘There was no other reason for the curtains to be closed: it was the middle of the day! Even when residents have daytime naps, they don’t close the curtains.’
The baffled mother left the care home grounds in a daze, explaining: ‘I told a couple of friends about the incident and they said I should have filmed it. I realised they were right.
‘I should have recorded everything – and I had my phone in my pocket – but I just didn’t think of it. I was so shocked by what I was being told, it didn’t cross my mind.’
Two days later, on Saturday afternoon, Oriana returned to £1400-a-week Bamford Grange and filmed the interaction she had with staff.
In the video footage, Oriana can be seen asking a member of staff who’s come to the front door whether it’s OK to wave at relatives through their windows.
The staff member, dressed in a navy uniform with a red trim and sporting a blue surgical mask, replied: ‘No, you have to book an appointment.’
Oriana has claimed this hasn’t been the case on previous visits, saying: ‘The carer was talking rubbish.
‘I’ve had many window visits over the past year and have never once made an appointment: I’ve always just turned up and gone to my dad’s window.’
In the clip, Oriana continued: ‘So you can’t even open the curtains so I can just say hi to my dad?’
The masked carer responded: ‘We’re not meant to, no.
Oriana calmly asked where that rule has come from.
‘From Stockport Council,’ the woman declared
She then asked why the council have any say in what happens at a private care home and the carer replied: ‘Because they pay for his bed here.’
‘No, they don’t,’ Oriana contradicted. ‘My dad pays for his bed himself.’
The staff member insisted that the home is obliged to go by what the council says and, although Oriana argued that the new rule ‘is not law’, the woman in the mask shook her head.
She replied: ‘I’m just the deputy manager: I just do as I’m told.’
She then said she had to go and turned away, pulling the door shut behind her.
The disgusted daughter then made another quick video to show where her dad’s room is, pointing out that the curtains are closed once again.
‘That’s my dad’s bedroom there,’ she said, pointing to a ground floor window. ‘And the curtains have been drawn now both times I’ve come here to wave to him… And I’m not allowed…’
On the subject of the ‘no waving’ rule, she added: ‘I can’t accept for a second that any local authority would come up with such pointless rule.’
Oriana has since contacted the Quality Care department at Stockport Council, who were unable to confirm whether or not the ‘no waving’ rule existed.
They told her the care home had informed them that they had closed her dad’s curtain because she was filming.
According to Oriana, this is not true because she didn’t take her phone out of her pocket during her original visit, saying: ‘By lying like this, they have broken my trust.’
She has also had a video call with her dad since the incident.
Attilio, originally from Italy and who once appeared on TV’s Homes Under The Hammer, is very disappointed not to have seen his beloved daughter.