The National Care Forum (NCF) joins colleagues Age UK, Relatives and Residents Association (R&RA) , John’s Campaign, Rights for Residents and the Registered Nursing Homes Association to call on the Government to resume care home visits by 1st March 2021.
The group of organisations and charities working with and on behalf of older people, their families and friends and care home providers have written a letter to the Prime Minister this week. The letter follows a statement issued earlier this month detailing the same call to Government.
As the PM looks to unveil his roadmap for easing the national lockdown in England on 22nd February, the organisations said an essential component of the plans must include reuniting families with their loved ones in care homes.
Vic Rayner, Executive Director of the National Care Forum said, ‘Many care homes have continued to offer visiting throughout the pandemic, balancing risks with the need to retain ongoing family contact. However, all care homes must now be better supported to enable meaningful visiting and the NCF, together with a number of organisations, are calling on the government to ensure that by 1st March 2021, essential caregivers can, once again, visit their loved ones in care homes.
‘Many family members quite understandably want to be reunited with their loved ones as soon as possible and this must be a priority in the roadmap to ease out of the lockdown. If dates have been set for the opening of bars and pubs, restaurants, schools and other industries, then the same effort and resolve must be given to opening up care homes to reunite families.
‘As an integral part of the roadmap out of lockdown, it is vital that all parties address the barriers that are in place around making it possible for essential caregivers to once again be a part of care home life. This must extend to all people receiving care and support in different care settings, so they too can look forward to being reunited with their families and friends. Providers have worked incredibly hard to keep visiting as available as possible through the strictures of ever-changing guidance, and this is a moment where we pull out all the stops to make visiting happen.’
Helen Wildbore, Director of R&RA, said, ‘We welcome the Care Minister’s comments about bringing an end to isolation in care, which follows a letter we sent to her on Tuesday calling for the safe reopening of care homes by 1st March. Almost a year of restrictions has had dire and tragic consequences for older people, which our helpline hears daily. Sadly, it is too late for too many but we must now safely reunite care home residents with their relatives/friends. Essential caregivers should be seen as a vital part of the care team, with the same safety measures as staff, including testing and PPE. Older people in care should expect to spend the time they have left not just as an existence, but as a life with dignity and love.'
Visit the R&RA website to read the letter to the Prime Minister in full.
The Relatives & Residents Association (R&RA) previously 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. 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.