Please let me hug my family before it's too late!
Please let me hug my family before it's too late!
Support “Gloria’s Law” and end isolation for care home residents
West End performer Ruthie Henshall has been personally affected by the harsh visiting restrictions imposed on care homes during the pandemic. Tragically, she lost her own wonderful mum Gloria, after witnessing her decline from the other side of a window, over many torturous months.
Like myself and thousands of others, she felt as though she was grieving for someone that was still alive. As the Ambassador for Rights for Residents, Ruthie is campaigning for “Gloria’s Law”. If passed this would ensure every resident has the legally enforced right to the support of an essential visitor, who could support them in all circumstances.
Care home residents have spent large parts of the last two years separated from their loved ones and isolated from each other, as they've been required to isolate in their own small rooms. Family contact is an essential part of care that has been denied to residents during the pandemic and the huge deterioration in their mental and physical health has been shocking.
Many have simply given up the will to live, leaving families unable to say their last goodbyes. Those living with conditions that prevent them from understanding what is happening and why, have been left feeling confused and abandoned.
Official Government Guidance finally acknowledged the need for every resident to nominate an Essential Care Giver / Visitor that can visit “in all circumstances”, including during a Covid outbreak. However, many homes refuse to follow the official Government Guidance - as it is advisory and not law - and instead impose their own more restrictive visiting regimes.
What we want the Government to do
We’re calling on the Government to take the following urgent action before more lives are lost through loneliness and isolation:
- Pass legislation (Gloria's Law) that would give every care home resident the legal right to nominate at least one Essential Care Supporter / Visitor that can maintain contact in ALL circumstances, regardless of outbreaks, lockdowns, variants and future pandemics.
- Ensure care homes return to pre Covid, unrestricted visiting arrangements, without the need for appointments, limits on time, frequency or the number of visitors.
- Limit care home visiting guidance to outbreak management only and continue testing to mitigate risk
- Bring the isolation period for residents in line with the general population. This would end the anomaly that allows care home staff to return to work, while care home residents remain subject to a minimum 14 day isolation period, that is resulting in rolling outbreaks and ongoing visiting bans.
Family members are not “just” visitors. No matter how wonderful care staff are, they cannot provide the emotional support that can only come from a family member. From children separated from their parents to young adults and the elderly, their distress is unimaginable.
Inequality and Discrimination
Now that all Covid restrictions have been lifted in the community, Rights for Residents are demanding the same return of freedoms for care home residents.
On 19 January 2022, Health Secretary Sajid Javid acknowledged that the virus and future variants cannot be eradicated and stressed that “we must learn to live with Covid in the same way we live with flu”. Those living in care settings must be subject to these same freedoms and considerations as they have just as much right as everyone else to live a meaningful life.
The Government must listen to those care providers who are also demanding an end to the visiting restrictions. In a Guardian interview on 4th January, Four Seasons Healthcare, which operates 165 care homes, said close to 4,000 of their residents were living under strict lockdowns because of outbreaks, but the Omicron variant was proving so mild in a well-vaccinated population that limits on seeing family and friends were in “total imbalance” with the risk:
“We are depriving people of their right to visitors, which is an absolute outrage,” said Jeremy Richardson, the chief executive of the UK’s third largest care home provider. “The government restrictions at the moment are making it very difficult to give people a quality of life … We run care homes. We do not run prisons.”
Ministers have consistently failed to provide evidence that these cruel restrictions are benefitting residents. In December 2021, an Oxford University study conducted by a team of eminent scientists, led by Epidemiologist Dr Tom Jefferson found evidence that many vulnerable residents have died of thirst, starvation and “broken hearts” during the pandemic. They identified that almost 40 per cent of excess fatalities were not caused by the virus – with many people dying of loneliness and neglect. Without the support of visitors, vulnerable residents were left to deteriorate and die: “neglect, thirst and hunger were – and possibly still are – the biggest killers”
The virus is now considered to be as risky as seasonal flu, for those who have been vaccinated, and as such should be managed in a similar way, via infection control procedures using tests and vaccines that are proving effective at protecting lives.
Whilst everyone else can enjoy socialising whenever and wherever they want, many residents and their families have to plead with their care home manager just to be "allowed" to sit in their own room together. Others are still limited to a 30 or 60 minute visit, every two or three weeks, in a faceless, designated room. This is despite all parties being fully vaccinated.
Even the most vulnerable living in the community can enjoy endless opportunities to mingle, without having to make an appointment to see their own family and friends.
The disparity of treatment must end now. The alternative is that those living in care homes will be locked away indefinitely, with no end in sight. Please sign our petition and help end this inequality.
Visit our website to find out more about our campaign and support us directly: rightsforresidents.co.uk
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