23 March 2021:
The anniversary of the first COVID-19 national lockdown is a time to reflect on what has passed and remember the people no longer with us. The scale of death is heart-breaking; each statistic a life lost, a family grieving.
A year into the pandemic, we also call on the Government to urgently learn lessons to prevent more tragedy and protect people’s rights.
The Government has overseen a human rights crisis unfolding in care over the past year, with dire and tragic consequences for older people. From hospital discharge policies putting lives at risk to inadequate visiting guidance leading to a year of isolation, the response to the pandemic has undermined rights and turned older people’s homes into closed institutions.
Too often over the past year, care services have been an afterthought. The basic tools to manage the virus – such as testing and PPE – arrived too late for too many. With professionals like social workers and GPs staying away and lack of oversight of the sector, the R&RA Helpline hears that care users and their families feel abandoned and forgotten.
The impact of a year of isolation in care has been devastating, with relationships torn apart and homes suddenly turned into institutions. The R&RA Helpline hears of the dramatic decline in both mental and physical health and of too many that have given up on life.
Yet still the Government fails to learn lessons, continuing to put rights at risk. Rather than working to end the isolation, Government guidance still applies a discriminatory, blanket ban on older people having visits out of care homes. For visits inside care homes, the Government has failed to make this guidance mandatory, or to set up a system to proactively monitor compliance, meaning families are left to chase homes. This has allowed poor practice to become entrenched in too many homes, with residents facing blanket approaches.
As the Prime Minister’s roadmap takes us out of lockdown, older people cannot be left behind once again. One year on, and the average length of stay in care just two years, urgent action is needed to ensure the time older people have left can be spent as a life worth living.
For support with any of these issues, contact our helpline.
More information on our campaign to End Isolation In Care here.