Boris Johnson must change the law to put an end to ‘completely unacceptable’ blanket bans on care home visits, MPs and peers said last night.
The cross-party group said the widespread restrictions were causing ‘rapid declines’ in residents’ physical and mental health – and could breach international human rights laws.
The joint human rights committee warned that too many care homes were still flouting official guidance which states they must carry out an individual assessment and give a reason if family members are barred from seeing their loved one.
MPs and peers say Boris Johnson must change the law to put an end to ‘completely unacceptable’ blanket bans on care home visitsInsurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Instead, some are still banning all visits or restricting them to just 30 minutes. Others are making families endure ‘prison-style’ appointments behind glass.
The committee, which consists of members of both Houses of Parliament, said a new law – which they have drafted – would force homes to explain exactly why visits were being banned and would allow relatives to challenge rulings.
Chairman Harriet Harman said: ‘For far too many families and their loved ones in residential care homes, the pandemic has been utterly heartbreaking because of the breach of the right to family life.
By James Tozer and Xantha Leatham
Shirley Carlsen’s face lit up with delight yesterday as she finally enjoyed some fresh air after 14 long months of lockdown.
A few minor squalls could not stop the 90-year-old from revelling in her new freedoms after a significant rule change.
As of yesterday, care home residents are able to go out on low-risk trips, for example to a loved one’s garden, without having to isolate for 14 days on their return.
It is the first time in a year that thousands of residents can leave their care home – but campaigners say the rule change is ‘not nearly enough’.
Mrs Carlsen, of Highcliffe Residential Home in Chorley, Lancashire, wrapped up warm for a trip around her neighbourhood – not forgetting her umbrella.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Care home manager Christine Wilkes said the residents were ‘raring to go’.
Meanwhile in Surrey, care home resident Rita Mackay enjoyed a coffee at a cafe for the first time in more than a year.
‘It’s lovely, but a bit cold,’ said the 86-year-old, who used to visit the cafe in Bagshot with her late husband. ‘I love it here. It’s been hard the last year not being allowed out, but it really feels like things are getting back to normal now.’
The Government announced the change last week after being threatened with legal action by the charity John’s Campaign.
The campaign is named after Alzheimer’s patient Dr John Gerrard, whose health declined dramatically in 2014 after a five-week isolation in hospital due to a norovirus outbreak.
The charity is now calling for the removal of the quarantine requirement for all visits out. If not, the group says it will start legal proceedings. It expects an announcement from the Government on May 10.