5 May 2021
In a hard-hitting report on visiting restrictions during the pandemic, the Joint Committee on Human Rights has echoed many of the calls in R&RA’s campaign to End Isolation In Care. It follows our evidence session with the Committee in which R&RA’s director highlighted the detrimental impact of a year of isolation and called for action to protect the rights of residents.
Since last June, R&RA has been calling for a strategy from government on safely reconnecting residents with their families, for essential visitors to be granted access, and for better guidance on visiting. The Committee’s report concludes that the Government’s guidance over the last year has not adequately acknowledged the importance of families to residents’ wellbeing and that it was wrong to deny essential care givers the right to see their relatives.
R&RA has been pushing for full rollout of visiting guidance across all care homes, tying it to provider’s duties under the law. We raised concerns that without mandatory visiting rules families would continue to face barriers. The Committee has stressed that the Government’s guidance should not be “second guessed or selectively applied” by providers: “If care homes are to depart from the guidance at any point, they must do so on the basis that it sets the floor, rather than the ceiling” in terms of protecting the right to family life. The Committee has again asked the Government to lay before Parliament a new law which would require individualised risk assessments on facilitating contact with people of significance to the resident. This would be a clear and strong direction from Parliament that facilitating meaningful contact with family/friends is fundamental to providing good care, during the pandemic and beyond.
R&RA has been calling for the Care Quality Commission to take a proactive role in monitoring care homes’ compliance with visiting guidance. We were shocked to hear the regulator give evidence to the Committee that they see no problems with implementation of the visiting guidance, whilst admitting that they are not collecting data to demonstrate this. The Committee also found this “astonishing” given “clear evidence to the contrary from residents and their families”. The Committee told the CQC it needs to get a grip on what is going on in the care home sector and put in place more robust processes to monitor adherence with the Government guidance by the end of May.
R&RA will continue to push for these changes to End Isolation In Care.
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