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Man in wheelchair at windown with carer standing behind him | Residential Care Management

Human rights proposals would end blanket ban on care home visits

The Joint Committee on Human Rights has written to health secretary Matt Hancock demanding new legislation to reduce the impact of long lockdown on those in care homes.

The Committee, long concerned about the effect of lockdown in settings such as care home settings, has drafted a new law which would end the blanket ban on relatives visits.

It would also require residential care homes to allow visits unless, after individualised assessment, a face-to-face visit is not possible for safety reasons.

The committee argues that blanket bans are in breach of the legal right to family life. The Government has issued guidance saying visits should resume and be individually assessed, but that needs to be enforced by law to make sure it happens in all homes.  

The new law drafted by the Committee requires care homes to allow visits by a “person significant to the service user.” This mirrors the law in Ontario in Canada where a close relative is regarded as part of the care team for the purpose of visits and tests.

Helen Wildbore, director of the R&RA, said: “Individual assessments are not an optional extra, they are essential to protecting residents’ rights. This change would support care providers to meet their duties under the Human Rights Act and help to end the humanrights crisis in care. We urge the Government to take forward this new law before it is too late for too many more older people. After almost a year of restrictions, urgent action is needed to end isolation in care.”

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