Campaigners says families and residents must be heard during Covid-19 inquiry

Care campaigners say the voices of the bereaved families and people living in care must be heard during the Covid-19 inquiry.

The comments came as the inquiry’s first hearing covering pandemic preparedness got underway today.

Helen Wildbore, director of the Relatives & Residents Association, told Caring Times: “Older people needing care have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and measures taken to manage it from the outset. From the devastating loss of life, to the harm caused by isolation from family, older people deserve answers. Even today, whilst the rest of the country is back to normal, people living in care have been left behind. It is vital that their voices are heard loud and clear in the inquiry and lessons are learned.”

Jenny Morrison, co founder of Rights for Residents, said: “A light must be shone on the harsh visiting restrictions placed on care homes. Thousands of our loved ones deteriorated, or died a lonely death, after enduring months of forced separation from their families. Visiting bans led to large scale neglect of the mental health and well-being of those living in care.

“Isolation also kills and without contact with even one family member, many residents simply gave up the will to live. Residents were left feeling abandoned with no way of understanding why their families had disappeared. The excess deaths, not related to Covid 19, also need to be acknowledged and lessons learned, in order to prevent a repeat of this situation.”

Jayne Connery, director of the Care Campaign for the Vulnerable, said she was “not at all satisfied” that a home could declare itself as having no case to answer when evidence suggested their loved one had passed away under questionable circumstances.  

Connery said the CCFTV had received “countless calls” about loved ones dying without family contact and in sudden circumstances during the pandemic.

The CCFTV director said families and staff would have “greatly benefited” from safety monitoring, adding she hoped this would be “widely examined” by the inquiry.  

The inquiry is being led by Baroness Hallett who said she would do “everything in her power” to explore what happened and what lessons needed to be learned.

Public hearings where people will be called to give evidence will begin in the spring.

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