Human Lives Human Rights: Nearly two years since the pandemic began, a number of care homes continue to deny residents their human right to a family life.
Even though the ministers have urged care homes to allow relatives to visit, many are still unable to see elderly residents.
Research from John’s Campaign shows that about 70% of older care home residents have dementia, and its often relatives, who are able to better interpret their behavior and provide comfort.
Figures from the Department of Health and Social Care show that 7.4% of care homes – more than 1,000 – are not allowing visits.
Diane Pickup of the Unlock Care Homes group, who has had a series of disputes with her mother’s care home, said she had been “turned down flat”.
In September, the Rights for Residents group, led by the West End actress Ruthie Henshall, delivered a petition signed by 250,000 people to Downing Street, calling for everyone living in care to have a legal right to an essential caregiver (ECG), but so far ministers have not acted. A survey of Rights for Residents members showed that nearly a quarter had been denied ECG status.
They mobilized the families of those directly affected into actively campaigning on behalf of their loved ones, whose voices can’t be heard.
The government’s statistics say around 92% of care homes are allowing visits. But the question asked is so broad that a care home could tick yes, even though they could be refusing access to essential caregivers, or only allowing families in half an hour a week.
This is an attack on older people’s human rights, and it’s devastating for them and their families.
Residents tell their families they would rather die than carry on “existing” in isolation. Relatives are plagued by feelings of guilt. They find themselves wishing their loved one would pass away, rather than continue to decline, often in a state of anxiety and distress, while they’re unable to comfort them.
Care home residents are prevented from enjoying the basic freedoms everyone else is now enjoying – it’s discrimination. They are still living with restrictions on who they can see, while everybody else can travel the world and go nightclubbing.
There is plenty of evidence that people are not getting any visits at all. They’re being told that, yes, they can have a 30-minute slot.
But if that’s booked up by somebody else, good luck. Often, it’s one family member per week. The Government must intervene to end the postcode lottery, in which some care companies follow official guidance while others choose to disregard it.
The whole idea to book a slot to see your own family member, is abhorrent. This should not be going on any more.
We are urging MPs to force the Government to pass emergency legislation that would enshrine the rights of “Essential Family Carers” in law.