The Relatives & Residents Association (R&RA) has issued a joint statement with Age UK, the National Care Forum, the Registered Nursing Homes Association, John’s Campaign and Rights For Residents on reuniting residents of care homes with their relatives and friends by 1st March.
The joint statement echoes R&RA’s campaign to End Isolation In Care which has been calling for older people to be safely reconnected with their family and friends in order to protect their rights. The organisations stand united in calling for residents to be allowed meaningful indoor visits with essential caregivers by 1st March.
According to the organisations who have backed the statement, if care home visits are delayed any longer, care home residents will have waited over a year to see and touch their loved ones. The organisations backing the urgent call say this is ‘unacceptable’ and that the absence of meaningful indoor visiting fails to recognise the fundamental role that relationships and love play in a resident's wellbeing.
There was also prominence placed on what we mean by visitors – the statement said that essential caregivers are more than ‘just’ visitors. They should be recognised as central to the person’s care; enabled to provide the support crucial to the health and well-being of their loved one and provided with relevant PPE and testing in line with the safety measures applied to the staff.
In response to the management of COVID-19 in care homes and how best to reduce risk, the joint statement said that through the use of individual assessments, care homes should balance the risk of harm from the virus with the risk of harm from isolation and lack of connection with those important to the resident. Their overall message was clear - from the beginning of March essential caregivers should no longer be kept away from their loved-one.
Although the statement is limited to England, the organisations who have backed the statement feel passionately about the restoration of meaningful relationships across all of the UK.
The following organisations have backed the statement:
- Helen Wildbore, Director at the Relatives & Residents Association.
- Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK.
- Nicci Gerrard & Julia Jones, Co-founders at John’s Campaign.
- Vic Rayner, Executive Director at National Care Forum.
- Diane Mayhew, Joint Founder at Rights for Residents.
- Ian Turner, Chair of the Registered Nursing Homes Association.
Helen Wildbore, Director of the Relatives & Residents Association, said, ‘Almost a year of isolation is having a devastating impact on older people in care. Our helpline hears the distress, despair and heartbreak of separation, and the desperation for a light at the end of the tunnel. We must safely reconnect families and friends, to stop the human rights crisis unfolding in care.’
Visit the Relatives & Residents Association website to read the joint statement in full.
According to the Joint Committee on Human Rights, blanket bans are in breach of the legal right to family life. The Government has issued guidance saying visits should resume and be individually assessed, but that needs to be enforced by law to make sure it happens in all homes.