Ed Balls had an emotional reunion with his mum Carolyn in scenes for his new documentary, Inside the Care Crisis with Ed Balls.
The broadcaster and former Cabinet Minister fronted a two-part special on BBC Two as he lived and worked in St Cecilia’s in Scarborough, to explore what life is like for those who are on the front line in elderly social care.
It was a particularly poignant project for the Strictly Come Dancing legend, 54, as his mum, Carolyn, has battled dementia for a decade, and has been in a care home for the last few years.
In the first instalment, he was joined by his sister, Joanna, as they went to visit the 83-year-old in Norwich, for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic hit.
‘The last time I saw mum was February, 2020, before the pandemic started,’ he told his sister as they drove to meet her.
‘I’ve not seen her now for 16 months. I’m always hoping that there might be some recognition, and if you don’t get any, it’s a bit disappointing. But the times when you do is really good.
‘Has she any idea what the pandemic is?’
‘No, she doesn’t know that she hasn’t seen us for a year,’ Joanna replied.
As the pair sat outside in the gardens of the home, Carolyn was wheeled to greet them for a touching reunion.
‘Hi mum, it’s Ed. How are you? It’s your oldest son Ed, first time for 16 months,’ the politician said as he lent in for a hug.
‘I’ve got to say, I wasn’t expecting so many smiles!’
The trio spent the brief visit reminiscing over photo albums together before singing hymns in the garden.
Their trip was cut short when Carolyn became tired, with her carer taking her back inside soon after.
‘Leaving my mum, I’m even more grateful for the care she receives,’ he added after the visit.
‘Dementia is a cruel disease that affects nearly 1million people in the UK. Our raging population means we’re going to see more of it.’
The final part of the documentary will air next Monday evening, and will also be available to stream on BBC iPlayer.
Ed previously explained one of the reasons that he decided to make the programme was because of his mum’s own battle with her health.
‘Social care is an issue that matters for all of us. I came into this as someone who has engaged with social care a great deal over the last 15 years both as an MP and Treasury Minister and also as a son because my mum has been in a care home for three years now,’ he said.
‘As a result, I started out thinking I knew what social care was all about and was shocked to discover how little I knew and how much I had to learn.
‘Even as a family member, with my mum in a care home, I didn’t realise how personal, difficult and challenging it would be to work as a carer.’
Inside the Care Crisis with Ed Balls continues on Monday at 9pm on BBC Two.