Ian Rankin tells of ‘tough’ year being unable to hug disabled son

The "hard" condition of being unable to contact or hug its injured son for nearly a year because of the Coronavirus Pandemic has been identified by best-selling criminal author Ian Rankin.

Rankin said that his son Kit, who is suffering from Angelman syndrome, doesn't understand the situation but is well cared for by his staff in his treatment home where he has a healthy and "quite complete life."

Rankin highlighted the challenges encountered by families of vulnerable relatives in an interview with Times Radio.

"We saw pictures on TV, and we heard about people's problems visiting elderly families, but there is lots of us who have fewer elderly family members who are also in full-time care and it's tough for those families," he said.

"My son Kit just doesn't know the situation.

Fortunately, he is surrounded by staff who work about him 24 hours a day and make sure he has a fairly full life.

"But not many relatives were permitted to come.

"We usually see him through a porch, we see him across the wall, there's no touching, no hugs."

Rankin said that Kit's caregivers had offered him communication through Zoom, but this was not realistic because of his visual disability.

"He really doesn't understand the two-dimensional screens or things like picture books and the like," he said.

"He could hear our voices, but he was confused, so where were we then?

Why didn't we give him a hug next to him?

"It worked with other people in his facility, but it didn't really benefit him.

"When he was taken out into the garden a lot last summer, we asked, 'If we came to look over the wall would that be all right?

'And the workers consulted and said it didn't have a problem.

"We pushed it across a fence so we were a bit closer to it, and that's what it was essentially.

Ian Rankin said it is difficult to hear from individuals with extreme intellectual disabilities that the coronavirus vaccine is not of highest importance (Jane Barlow/PA)

"We travel along once a week and stand one side of the big iron door while he sits on the other side in his wheelchair, and we feel like we're kind of together at least."

Rankin said it was "lucky" to have her son home for Christmas, but he noted that it is "especially difficult" for those in certain disadvantaged areas not to be higher than the vaccine priority list.

"Since last February, he has been trapped in this care facility, now a year," Rankin said of his son.

"He was almost practically not outside the walls.

"I could only tell as we got him home that he was dazzled to be out in a car, driving in almost one year for the first time.

"I suppose what matters most about Kit is that he's around people who take care of him and feed him – the workers send him hugs.

"He is safe but it is difficult and particularly difficult to find out that people with serious learning difficulties are not as high as some might like on the vaccine list."