It seems it is one step forward, two steps back in ending isolation in care. We saw a cautious step forward this week with new guidance permitting face-to-face visits in care homes. But now Government guidance on visits out of care homes takes us backwards in the most appalling way, by specifically excluding older people:
“visits out of care homes should only be considered for care home residents of working age”.
If people living in care haven’t already felt like prisoners in their own homes, Government rules to keep them locked in for an unspecified time will be another devastating blow to a group who have already faced the dire consequences of a year in isolation.
The cut off at working age is arbitrary and unfair. It not only discriminates on the basis of age, but also on the basis of where a person lives – older people receiving care in their own homes will be free to meet up with a relative/friend outside, like the rest of the population.
It is yet another blanket policy imposed by the Government on older people in care. It was first introduced before Christmas, and faced a legal challenge by campaign group John’s Campaign, supported by R&RA. It was amended during the latest lockdown to advise no care home residents should have visits out, regardless of age. Why have the Government decided to reintroduce this discriminatory policy now?
Our helpline hears the distress of people being told, throughout the pandemic, that they are not allowed to leave their homes, interfering with their right to liberty (protected by Article 5 of the Human Rights Act). We have already seen these restrictions leading to desperate scenes of families ‘rescuing’ their relatives from care homes and many more families considering a move out of care.
We urge the Government to rethink this heart-breaking policy. Whilst the rest of the country will be free to enjoy the gradual lifting of lockdown restrictions, those living in care who have been at the sharp end of coronavirus restrictions cannot be left behind in continued isolation.