Home U.K Campaigners stepped up to overturn 'barbaric' care home restrictions

Campaigners stepped up to overturn 'barbaric' care home restrictions

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While millions are tasting new-found freedoms this month, many lonely pensioners trapped inside for more than a year now face the “barbaric” restrictions. The John’s Campaign group and law firm Leigh Day have launched the legal fight to ­overturn the ruling. They called it a “shameful disregard for people who have already lost more than a year from their lives”. A pre-action letter sent to the Department of Health and Social Care says the requirement, in force from April 12, creates an “unacceptable risk of illegality because it requires care homes to act unlawfully”.

John’s Campaign is named after Dr John Gerrard, who had Alzheimer’s disease and died in November 2014, following a stay in hospital. It was set up in 2014 to lobby for extended visiting rights for family carers.

Campaigners said the new guidance encouraged care homes to “falsely imprison” residents and deprive them of their liberty, contrary to Article Five of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Julia Jones, co-founder of John’s Campaign, said: “I find it deeply saddening we have to take the Government to court to establish the right for all adults to be able to step out into the fresh air accompanied by a trusted friend or family member.

“The current guidance that effectively imprisons all care home residents by the threat of 14 days of self-isolation reveals a shameful disregard for a group
of people who have already lost more than a year from their lives.”

The requirement is imposed on all residents, irrespective of their circumstances, the nature of their trip out and the impact of self-isolation on them.

The cruelty was highlighted by care home resident Reg Heinz, who said overzealous restrictions made him feel like a prisoner.

He said: “I have left the confines of the home twice in 13 months. Both of these occasions have been for hospital check-ups.

“I previously enjoyed visits to my family, local events such as car shows and family meals. For the last year I have not been able to do any of this.

“I feel like I have missed a whole year of my life and am going to miss another. I feel like I am missing out on living my life. I would like to go out for an hour and enjoy the fine weather.

“I would like to go for a simple walk, but cannot face the isolation of 14 days in my bedroom.

“I had to do this when I caught Covid in October. It was terrible. I want to enjoy my life while I still can and while I have the mobility to get about. I do not know how long I have this for.” Another resident, known as Kate, is disabled and lives in the grounds of a large residential care home.

Before lockdown, Kate stayed with her sister Flora every three weeks. But because of the 14-day isolation rule this is no longer possible.

Flora said: “It is barbaric and prohibitive. Kate having to isolate would be impossible, they would have to lock her in her room. It is a deprivation of liberty.”

A DHSC spokesman said: “We understand contact with family and friends is vital to the health and wellbeing of residents and we are doing everything we can to provide safe opportunities to meet.

“We want to enable residents to enjoy a range of trips out of the care home, wherever it is safe and proportionate to do so.

“Guidance on visits out of care homes will be kept under review including, when the data shows it is safe, looking again at the requirement for residents to isolate on their return from a visit.”



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