‘Royals visited my dad’s care home but I couldn’t’


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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spoke with residents during their visit to Shire Hall Care Home in Cardiff

A man has said it was “upsetting” to see the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit a care home where his father lives before his family was allowed to.

The Royal couple visited Shire Hall Care Home in Cardiff on Wednesday.

Rhys Thomas said he was told he would be unable to see his father, former assembly member Owen John Thomas, until Friday after a carer tested positive.

The care home said Mr Thomas’ father and others who had been isolated were not part of the visit.

Mr Thomas said he had accepted an apology from the “very good” care home.

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Owen John Thomas, pictured left, with his wife Sian, his son Rhys and daughter-in-law Manon

Mr Thomas said he had not seen his father, who has dementia and has been in the care home for 18 months, since the start of July.

“It’s a bit upsetting that we can’t go but the Royal Family are allowed to go there and play bingo,” he told BBC Wales.

“We didn’t know about it beforehand. Maybe the care home didn’t know about it in advance, so I’m not critical of not knowing.”

While he said he understands the benefits of the visit to “boost morale”, Mr Thomas said it was a “bit insensitive”.

“I’m happy with the home – they provide very, very good care,” he explained.

“I sent an email complaining, and I have had two phone calls from the care home today trying to explain. I accept their apology.

“It’s nothing to do with being against the visit per se – some people of a certain generation would have appreciated that.”

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Prince William and Catherine spoke to staff and residents at the care home

Mr Thomas said he would now be unable to see his father until Tuesday because he has to go away for five days.

“But of course, we don’t know if the care home will be locked down again,” he added.

“It looks like I could have gone on Wednesday, but the Duke and Duchess were there.”

He said that with his father’s illness “every moment is precious”, especially with the coronavirus pandemic.

Shire Hall Care Home said the suspension of visitors only applied to one community in the home.

It said the dementia community at the home had been Covid-19 free for 28 days on Tuesday but, as it takes time to arrange visits in accordance with guidance, it wrote to all relatives concerned the pervious day informing them they could begin facilitating outdoor visits from Thursday.

Mr Thomas said he did not receive this correspondence.

Correspondence between the local authority and the care home manager, seen by the BBC, states that the 28-day no-visitor period came to an end on Wednesday. This was also confirmed by Public Health Wales.

The care home said: “We understand the importance of the connection between residents and their loved ones and have worked hard to develop innovative ways to keep them in touch throughout this challenging period.”

It said the entire home had now been coronavirus-free for 28 days and visits to the home had resumed for all.

It added: “We would like to thank relatives for their support during this challenging period.”

The Royal Family have declined to comment and referred the BBC to the care home.

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