Campaigners call for end to care home visiting restrictions
A coalition of organisations has written to local health and care leaders for a second time calling for an end to care home visiting restrictions.
The joint action is an initiative of the charity the Relatives & Residents Association, campaign group Rights for Residents and academic Dr Caroline Emmer De Albuquerque Green of King’s College London.
Helen Wildbore, director of the Relatives & Residents Association, said: “Whilst life has gone back to normal for the rest of the country, people living in care have been left behind. Too many are still facing harmful restrictions on their daily lives, all in the name of ‘protection’ and ‘public health’, without recognition of the damage of isolation. Two and half years on and we still haven’t learnt the most basic lesson from this pandemic: without the support of loved ones, people’s mental and physical health suffers greatly. Undervaluing this support is dehumanising not only for the person living in care, but also for their friends and relatives.
“Older people are still paying a heavy price for the failings in the early stages of the pandemic as risk-averse approaches have become deeply embedded. Public health teams must urgently step back to see the bigger picture of this public health crisis and comply with their legal duties to protect wider health and wellbeing.”
The letter highlights challenges people face in accessing vital support from loved ones during Covid-19 outbreaks. It seeks to address a barrier to visiting many are facing when local health teams impose restrictions beyond those in government guidance. The letter calls on local health and care teams to fulfil their legal duties, including respect for the right to family life.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Visitors can provide a lifeline for patients in hospital and residents in care homes – we must never underestimate the impact of spending time with a loved one or having a conversation with a friend.
“Those in hospital and care homes should not be deprived of the comfort of regular visits and even during a Covid outbreak we are clear that one visitor should still be given access. We will continue to monitor data and feedback on visiting and keep guidance and additional options under review to ensure that visiting is facilitated in care homes.”
Information on infection prevention and control in adult social care settings can be viewed here: Infection prevention and control in adult social care settings – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)