Please let me hug my family before it's too late!

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Freedom Day - not for care home residents!

After seventeen torturous months many of those living in care settings are still denied any meaningful contact with their loved ones. In response to the demands of campaigners, the Government have finally published guidance that recognises the importance of visits to the mental health and well-being of those previously isolated in care. However, many homes refuse to implement the official guidance.

My name is Jenny. My mum Jean lives in a care home and has advanced Alzheimer's Dementia. The lack of contact during the pandemic left her feeling like a prisoner although she'd committed no crime.  Through the months of isolation mum's physical and mental health deteriorated dramatically and she’s now a shadow of her former self. This is distressing for mum - and like thousands of others - her family spent months grieving for someone that was still alive.

Inequality and Discrimination

On 19th July all Covid restrictions were lifted for every citizen living in England. We are now free to manage our own risks as the Government insist we learn to live with the virus. However, despite being the first group to be fully vaccinated, care home residents are denied these same rights. 

Contrary to clear instructions that care homes must now enable meaningful visits, many continue to limit their residents to one 20 or 30 minute visit, by appointment only, every two or three weeks.  The Government refuse to make the Guidance legally enforceable and there are no penalties for care homes that refuse to implement it.  

As the Government encourage us to get back to relative normality, care home residents are prevented from enjoying the basic freedoms we have all been granted.  

While others can now enjoy socialising at weddings, BBQs, sporting events, theatres, cinemas, concerts and family celebrations etc, care home residents and their families have to plead with care home managers to even sit in their own room together, even when all parties are fully vaccinated. Worse still, when visits are allowed, they are time limited and by appointment only. Imagine how you’d feel if you were subject to such blatant inequality. The double standards are staggering.

Even the most vulnerable living in the community can enjoy endless opportunities to mingle, if they so wish, without having to make an appointment to see their own family and friends. They are free to make their own decisions and manage their own risk, in the knowledge that the level of protection provided by the vaccine is as good as it gets. The same principle must be urgently applied to those living in care settings as there is no risk free solution for any of us.

Many are in their last months, days and weeks of life and the quality of life is just as important as the quantity. The risks are now minimal and must be balanced against the huge risks of people giving up the will to live due to loneliness and isolation.

Family members are not “just” visitors, they offer an essential component of care that has been removed during the pandemic. No matter how wonderful care staff are they can not provide the emotional support that can only come from a family member. We are the eyes, ears, voices and memories of our loved ones.

From children separated from their parents, to young adults and the elderly, their distress is unimaginable. The majority of residents are living with conditions that prevent them from understanding what is happening and why. Isolated for months in their own small rooms they have been left feeling confused and abandoned. 

What we want the Government to do 

The postcode lottery in which some are allowed meaningful visits and others are denied must stop.  In order to end this inequality we’re calling on the Government to take the following urgent action before more lives are lost through loneliness and isolation: 

Mandate the Care Home Visiting Guidance and make it law - with clear penalties for those that refuse to follow it. 
Pass emergency legislation that enshrines the right of an Essential Care Giver in law to provide emotional and well being support, regardless of outbreaks, periods of isolation, lockdowns or future variants. 
This would enshrine in law the right for every resident to have the support of at least one Essential Care Giver (family member or friend) who would continue to visit under any circumstances, as stated in their own advisory guidance. 

Charities have highlighted the thousands of excess deaths resulting from loneliness and separation, as people simply give up the will to live, without stimulation and the comfort of family contact. Many have exercised the only choice they had left, which was to stop eating and drinking. Politicians from ALL parties have a responsibility to stem the tide of premature deaths. This atrocity is too big to ignore should be acknowledged in any public inquiry. Act now, save lives and do "whatever it takes" to avoid another Tsunami of care home fatalities.

Please support our Rights for Residents Campaign directly

Visit our website to find out more: Rights For Residents 

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