The joint committee on human rights is tabling draft legislation to protect those denied the chance to see their families for 14 months during the pandemic. Government guidance says care homes should not impose blanket bans but instead risk assess every resident. But the advice is ignored or interpreted differently by many providers – leaving residents with no legal recourse.
The MPs say it is “completely unacceptable” for homes to claim it is not yet safe for the most vulnerable to see their relatives.
They also told the Care Quality Commission (CQC) watchdog to “get a grip” and start monitoring visits and collecting proper data on them by the end of May.
Labour’s Harriet Harman, who chairs the committee, 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 not underpinning this guidance in law, care homes have not felt bound by it and important rights have not been respected.
CQC assurances that visits are being allowed properly now in all homes is wholly unconvincing.”
A 250,000-name petition was delivered to Downing Street yesterday – with West End actress Ruthie Henshall leading the delegation.
It was the culmination of a year-long campaign triggered by hundreds of thousands of harrowing stories from families banned from seeing dying relatives. Ruthie was reunited with mum Gloria, 87, in March for the first time in six months after being made one of her care team.
Gloria has dementia, and her daughter, 54, said: “For her touch is her communication. You can see the difference it makes.”
Jenny Morrison, of campaign group Rights for Residents, said: “The Government has provided a clear roadmap for every other member of society.
“No such freedoms have been granted to those living in care homes and this appalling breach of human rights continues.”