The government is being taken to the High Court over its guidance instructing that care home residents isolate for 14 days on first admission to a care home and when they return from an overnight visit outside the home.
The charity John’s Campaign has applied for permission for a judicial review of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) guidance at the High Court.
Originally, the Government said any resident leaving their care home in England must isolate for 14 days on their return, however the guidance was updated at the beginning of May allowing low-risk outdoor visits, and, later that month updated again to allow visits to hospitals as outpatients, GPs, dentists, day centres, workplaces and educational settings without needing to self-isolate after.
John’s Campaign which campaigns against enforced disconnection between family carers and those requiring care in hospital or residential settings says current guidance is unlawful because it encourages providers to falsely imprison residents, and makes it likely that providers will not conduct individual risk assessments, and has applied for permission for judicial review of Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) guidance which includes the isolation requirement.
Leigh Day partner Tessa Gregory said the 14 day isolation requirement is “without a legal basis” and is regardless of whether that person has been double vaccinated and regardless of the impact that isolation will have on the individual’s physical and mental health.”
“As the case studies our client has collected show, this is having a profound impact on the wellbeing of residents and in some cases is resulting in serious and irretrievable decline.”
“In accordance with the law, individuals and individual risk assessments should be at the heart of decision making by care homes, not blanket requirements as dictated by the Government.”
The DHSC is understood to have has told Leigh Day that the 14-day requirement is not mandatory, but the Care Quality Commission has said it expects providers to comply with Government guidance.
Co-founder Nicci Gerrard said: “It was always cruel to isolate people in homes and to discriminate against them. It was always meaningless and wrong, but suffering is a time-bound process.
“The 14-day rule punishes people who have committed no crime and treats them as lesser.
“We call on the Government to behave with compassion and decency and change this guidance that has caused so much suffering.”
Her colleague Julia Jones added: “Listening to relatives and reading accounts of 14-day isolation has been a sickening experience.
“Most people wouldn’t shut an animal up for two weeks with no fresh air, exercise or companionship.
“Yet this is happening routinely to new arrivals in our care homes, to people discharged from hospital needing rehabilitation and to young people who need to spend time with their families.”
Director of the Relatives and Residents Association, Helen Wildbore, said the Government has “swung from one extreme to the other” with its care home response.
She said: “In the first wave, the sector was left without even basic protections and residents felt abandoned.
“Now, Government guidance imposes prison-like isolation which our helpline hears is having a devastating impact on wellbeing.
“Whilst the rest of the country is opening up, people living in care are being left behind in the most appalling way. This policy must be urgently amended.”