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First week of care home visits a “week of broken promises”, families say

Relatives have described the first week of care home visits as a “week of broken promises”, says The Relatives & Residents Association (R&RA).

Association director Helen Wildbore said: “From what we are hearing, the Government’s promise of reuniting families has not become a reality for too many older people. From blanket bans to restrictive rules, families have faced [barriers] during the past seven days.”

Below are some of the problems faced by families, according to the R&RA:  

  • Homes refusing to reopen until 12 April or when residents have their second dose of the vaccine
  • Strict 30-minute visits in a dedicated visiting room, without consideration of individual needs
  • Restrictive visitor hygiene rules, eg, having to wash their hair before visiting, changing into a clean set of clothes on site
  • Essential care-giver status of relatives not recognised.

The Association also notes that some homes find themselves placed into a  perpetual, rolling lockdown, due to what it terms “overly-rigid” definitions of an outbreak.

Wildbore says: “Meaningful contact for the first time in a year has meant the first steps towards rekindling lost relationships, reigniting fading memories and reconnecting, albeit through latex gloves. However, our helpline has heard from people… disturbed by [relatives’] significant weight loss, the visible pain and distress or loss of cognition. “

She adds: “Lack of individual assessments is a clear breach of the guidance, and of care providers’ duties under the Human Rights Act and Equality Act.”

  • A new Partners in Care resource has been published to support care homes engage with visiting.


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