Coalition writes to leaders to end isolation in care

January 6, 2022

A coalition of organisations wrote to local health and care leaders calling on them to end harmful isolation practices and to help promote the rights of people in care.

Organisations representing both care providers and users signed the joint letter highlighting the ‘severe, detrimental impact’ isolation from family and friends can have on people living in care and the key role local leaders play in protecting their rights.

The letter seeks to address a barrier to visiting many are facing when local health teams impose blanket approaches. The letter calls on local health and care teams to fulfil their legal duties by ensuring restrictions on contact are proportionate. It also provides them with information resources to promote ‘essential caregivers’ to ensure every resident can benefit from this role so vital to their wellbeing.

The joint action is an initiative of the charity the Relatives and Residents Association, campaign group Rights for Residents and academic Dr Caroline Emmer De Albuquerque Green of King’s College London.

Helen Wildbore, director of the Relatives & Residents Association, said, ‘Our helpline hears daily about the devastating impact isolation is having on people living in care. Lifelong bonds have been broken, relationships damaged, people with dementia think they’ve been abandoned. Untold damage to health and wellbeing is being caused by the response to the pandemic, in the name of keeping people safe.’

Dr Caroline Emmer De Albuquerque Green of King’s College London, said, ‘The pandemic has shown that spending time with family and friends is not a matter of luxury – it is a matter of life and death. This is why the right to privacy and family life is a fundamental human right, written down in international and national law. Making sure that every care home resident is assigned an essential caregiver is an important practical step in protecting and respecting this fundamental human right in care settings and to address current injustices faced by care home residents, their families and care professionals.’

In relation to the importance of ECGs, Jenny Morrison, co-founder of Rights for Residents, said, ‘ECGs are not just “visitors” - they share a unique personal history and relationship with their loved one. The care they provide simply cannot be replicated by care staff, no matter how wonderful or dedicated they are. The impact of loneliness and isolation has far outweighed the impact of Covid, on care home residents, in the later part of the pandemic. We need to ensure that measures put in place to protect residents are proportionate to the current situation.’

Visit the R&RA website to read the letter.

Visit the UK Government website to read the visiting guidance in full.

In other news, As the new year begins, the Government will provide an extra £60m of funding support to local authorities to support the adult social care response to COVID-19.

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