Families MUST be allowed to visit their loved ones in care homes

Families MUST be allowed to visit their loved ones in care homes

November 4, 2020

Families MUST be allowed to visit their loved ones in care homes to avoid ‘extreme anguish’, coalition of more than 60 organisations urges

  • Care homes were locked down for eight months when the epidemic struck
  • Indoor visits at care homes are still banned in some places around the country 
  • Coalition has warned Health Secretary that the ban is ‘intrinsically harmful’ 

Families must be able to visit their loved ones in care homes this winter to help keep them alive, campaigners urged last night.

Care homes were locked down when the epidemic struck in March and, eight months on, bans on indoor visits are still in place around the country.

A coalition of over 60 organisations, led by the National Care Forum, has sent an open letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock warning the ban is ‘intrinsically harmful’ and is causing ‘extreme anguish’.

They are calling for each resident to have at least one relative or friend designated as a key visitor with regular testing to enable face-to-face meetings.

Families must be able to visit their loved ones in care homes this winter to help keep them alive, campaigners urged last night. Stock picture

Experts have warned that the lack of contact with loved ones is a matter of life and death for vulnerable care home residents, with isolation and loneliness causing their health to deteriorate.

While newly published legislation makes clear that going to see relatives in care homes or hospital is a valid reason to travel, ending fears that such journeys risked prosecution. 

Fiona Carragher, of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: ‘We know that family carers keep people with dementia in care homes tethered to the world and it’s no exaggeration to say they are keeping them alive.’

The letter, which has been signed by academics and charities such as Age UK, said that as the Government finalises regulations for the national lockdown, it must be the ‘default position’ that care homes are open for visiting.

Care homes were locked down when the epidemic struck in March and, eight months on, bans on indoor visits are still in place around the country. Stock picture

It states: ‘Care homes must be supported to enable visits by families and loved ones, now and in the future.

‘We know that isolation caused by restrictions on visits from loved ones is intrinsically harmful and we have heard over and again the extreme anguish that this is causing.’ Mike Padgham, chairman of the Independent Care Group, who signed the letter, said: ‘People can’t wait much longer, particularly people with dementia, who are sometimes forgetting who their loved ones are.’

The Department of Health said it had introduced control measures to enable visits to continue safely where possible.

Over-85s ‘to be offered a vaccine next month’ 

A Covid vaccine is set to be rolled out from next month, it was reported last night.

GP practices will be asked to prepare to give the vaccine to over-85s and frontline workers from the beginning of December, according to doctor’s magazine Pulse.

Drawing on information from ‘numerous sources’, it says two vaccines are being prepared and one requires two shots and needs to be kept at minus 70C. Possible vaccines include one made by German biotech firm BioNTech and Pfizer, which requires two shots. The UK has signed up for 40million doses of it.

And Oxford University’s jab also works best with two doses. Trial results for both vaccines are hoped to be released before the end of the year. Any jabs which are effective and available will be delivered to care homes and large ‘delivery centres’, according to Pulse. An announcement on the rollout is expected as early as next week.

Despite the Government securing early access to six potential vaccines, none have yet been proven to work. But hopes are high that at least one will protect patients from severe illness.

Officials are hoping to vaccinate as many people as possible before Easter.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said once a vaccine is approved, ‘the NHS stands ready to begin the vaccination programme to those most at risk, before being rolled out more widely’.

By Victoria Allen 

 

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