Relatives & Residents Association

We support, inform and speak on behalf of older people in care


Essential Caregivers: full roll-out needed

R&RA is calling for urgent and united action to ensure every resident who needs to can access the support of an Essential Caregiver. Older people in care have spent more than a year without close contact and interaction with their relatives/friends, and the introduction of the Essential Caregiver role was a welcome first step to end their isolation. However, availability of the role remains limited. For residents who need regular support from relatives/friends, with closer contact, help with personal care or emotional wellbeing, it is vital that access is rolled out across all care homes.

We are joined in this call by a coalition of organisations, including the National Care Forum who represent not-for-profit care providers. See our joint statement here.

We have published some frequently asked questions about the Essential Caregiver role, based on what we hear on the R&RA Helpline. The resource aims to encourage care providers to facilitate the role, and to aid residents’ and their families’ understanding of how to get it.

The Essential Caregiver role was introduced in the latest Government guidance on visiting in care homes, in effect from 8 March. It followed a joint letter by R&RA and other organisations calling for this as a first step to re-opening care homes. Three weeks after the role was introduced we continue to hear about care providers failing to offer the role and the distress and frustration this is causing. Care providers, relatives and friends, local and national government and the regulator must work together to make the Essential Caregiver role a reality for all who need it.

The role of the regulator is key to ensuring full roll-out. We have called on the Care Quality Commission to take a proactive role in monitoring compliance with the visiting guidance. It is unacceptable that relatives/friends of those in care have had to step in to fill the gap, chasing homes to facilitate Essential Caregivers and the other types of visiting.

After over a year of isolation, and with the average length of stay in a care home two years, time is running out for many older people who need action now to protect their rights.

Read the FAQs on the Essential Caregiver role here. If you have any further questions or need support with getting the role, please contact our helpline here.



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