HEARTBREAKING video shows a deaf pensioner “serving a prison sentence” in a care home where no one can communicate with him.
John Skinner uses sign language in the clip to tell about his desperate loneliness as he watches other residents laughing and talking to each other on December 1.
The 77-year-old contributes around £10,000 from his pension annually to stay at Oak Court Residential Care Home, Wolverhampton, with the local council paying the other half.
The former joiner wants to live in one of only three specialist homes for deaf OAPs in the UK but his local council have refused to fund the move.
John, who suffers from Parkinson’s Disease, has been in the home since September and has been suicidal because of his loneliness.
The dad of two and grandfather of seven cannot live at home with his wife, Linda, 72, who is also deaf. John keeps falling over and Linda cannot hear when this happens.
His furious family posted the video to social media with the caption: “In talks with Wolves Council on my dad’s nursing care.
“The council believes in integrating deaf people into mainstream care services. Seeing my dad like this breaks my heart. There are more deaf people who are in the same situation.”
In the clip John says: “I’m lonely. No one to talk to. I watch people laugh and talk. I have to watch and wait for my moment to ask for a drink.
“I can’t say to staff ‘I’d like a little more or less in my drink’. I try to teach staff BSL [British Sign Language] but they don’t understand.”
Professor Jemina Napier, Chair of Intercultural Communication in the Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, wrote under The post saying: “This is sad to see – hard for your dad and you and your family.
“My deaf grandfather was in a signing nursing home with other deaf people and deaf and hearing staff that could sign and it made such a difference to him and to us.
“@WolvesCouncil do the right thing by the Skinner family”.”
@ Deaf4Deaf wrote: “Truly horrifying to watch this exclusion take place in front of our eyes.
“This takes place daily for deaf people in hearing families, mainstream schools, in work places and in care homes. Isolation and extreme loneliness is the result.
“Inclusion means being part of a community and a culture that accepts and respects the Deaf identity and Deaf journey.
“Give this deaf man the dignity of being included in a care home with Deaf people where he can truly belong and converse in his natural language.”
Speaking today, John’s son, Robert Skinner said: “My dad tried to commit suicide – he is very lonely. The council attribute my dad’s mental health as related to Parkinson’s. We link it to both social isolation and Parkinson’s.
“For my dad at the moment it is like serving a prison sentence. He sits there watching people talk, laugh, reading the situation and has no idea of when they will stop talking so he can ask the staff for a drink.
“The care home have not the funding to provide an interpreter or employ someone fluent in BSL. They care for my dad but cobbled together a service that has very limited communication. It’s gestures. The gestures are not always mutually understood.”
Robert explained that Labour-run City of Wolverhampton Council did provide the home with extra funding to help them cope and learn how to care for John but this only lasted 14 weeks.
Oaks Court is run by a company called Quality Homes UK who operate four care homes in the West Midlands.
A spokeswoman declined to comment on their relationship with the local council or funding for John.
She insisted: “We’ve been supporting the Skinner family to the hilt. Our staff learned basic sign language to help deal with John but as his Parkinson’s got worse he was unable to recognise this.
“He needs more specialist care as his condition has got worse. It is the reason why we started this with the family. We’ve done our best to care for him.”
A spokeswoman for Wolverhampton City Council said: “We are committed to working with Mr. Skinner and his family. Together we are looking to find care and support that meets his needs.
“We cannot discuss this personal issue in a public arena but will continue our conversations directly with Mr. Skinner and his family.”