John’s Campaign, which fights for relatives to have better access to their loved ones in care, argues that the blanket ban – which also applies to individuals who are healthy – is unlawful. It is also fighting to have the rules on self-isolation – which dictate anyone who leaves a care home must self-isolate for 14 days upon return – to be overturned.
In a letter to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), the campaign’s solicitors Leigh Day said the guidance must balance the Covid-19 risk against the harm caused by keeping people away from their families.
They also say the Equality Act 2010 prohibits indirect discrimination, but the guidance on care home visits “permits (indeed, requires) just such a discriminatory approach to be taken”.
They added that existing laws require care homes to make specific, risk-assessed decisions for the individuals in their care, and imposing blanket restrictions on those aged over 64 is “fundamentally at odds with that requirement”.
John’s Campaign co-founder Nicci Gerrard called the Government guidance “extraordinary, unkind and entirely unacceptable”.
She added: “Care homes are not prisons, and people living in them should have the same rights as everyone else in society.”