MPs across the political spectrum will debate the creation of a new legal right to ensure people can maintain contact with their family in health and care settings.
The backbench business debate will take place tomorrow, Thursday 27 October in the House of Commons.
An alliance of MPs is supporting the right for a care supporter to be enshrined in law which is being led by Rights For Residents and John’s Campaign, and the charity the Relatives & Residents Association.
The debate follows research from a survey of over 650 families which highlights how isolation in care is continuing to cause harm.
The data shows many care homes are still experiencing COVID outbreaks and applying restrictions beyond what is required by Government guidance:
• Almost 60% of respondents reported their loved one’s care home had been in lockdown since April this year
• Only 24% of these homes followed Government guidance and allowed one visitor at a time during the outbreak period
• 62% of these homes applied additional restrictions – over and above what is required by Government guidance during an outbreak. By far the most common was to allow only one named visitor per resident (32%)
• 71% of the care homes implementing this ‘one named visitor’ rule told families they were following advice from local public health teams and/or the local authority
• In 11% of outbreaks, residents were not allowed any visitors at all
The survey also found that some care homes are still implementing blanket visiting restrictions outside of outbreak situations, contrary to current guidance:
• 45% of respondents said there were visiting restrictions in place despite there being no outbreak
Helen Wildbore, director of the Relatives & Residents Association, said:
“Older people in care have been forgotten about – out of sight and out of mind – still suffering the harmful impact of isolation which has destroyed so many lives. Now their voices will go right to the heart of power as MPs ask the government to ensure the damage of the last two and half years is never repeated. The support of relatives and friends is vital to good care and must be enshrined in law.”
Diane Mayhew, co-founder of Rights for Residents, said:
“Our survey underlines the urgent need for the rights of residents, young and old, to be legally upheld. We must ensure those in care homes and hospitals have a legal right to at least one essential care supporter that can visit them in any circumstances. Families have been forced to stand aside and witness the devastating effects that isolation has had on their vulnerable loved ones throughout the pandemic. On being forcibly separated from their closest family members many simply gave up the will to live. Families are not just visitors, they are the eyes, ears and voices of those that can’t be heard and they provide an element of care that cannot be replicated by paid carers, no matter how wonderful they are.”