“Please let me hug my family before it’s too late!”
That’s the title of a petition that has been signed by over 240,000 people demanding a new law ending isolation for care home residents, with many saying care operators are still refusing to follow government advice and are imposing their own stricter regimes.
100-year-old care home resident Frances Heaton has issued a video plea for greater freedom, complaining that thousands of people can go to pop festivals but she is being prevented from seeing two of her children at her home in Yorkshire.
Government guidance is that every care home resident in England can have an unlimited number of “named visitors” who will be able to enter the care home for regular visits after negative tests and they can also nominate one essential care giver who undergoes regular testing who may visit the home to attend to essential care needs.
Hundreds of families are to protest in Westminster next week over restrictions on residents’ access to their families in care homes and the lack of legal visiting rights after 18 months of lockdowns. The protest, organised by the Rights for Residents campaign group, will be led by the actor Ruthie Henshall, whose mother, Gloria, died recently after isolation in a care home that allowed only “window visits”.
“My name is Frances,” Heaton said in the message from her room. “I was 100 years old in March. After 18 months of being shut out from the outsider world my daughter can now see me in my room. But my other daughter and my son are not allowed in my room. But 90,000 people can visit the Leeds Festival. Human rights and equality are out of order altogether.”
Jenny Morrison, the co-founder of Rights for Residents, said: “Some people are paying £8,000 a month [in care fees] and haven’t got the right to decide who comes into their home. We feel that if social care is going to be reformed, they should look at the rights of people in care homes and the responsibilities of people that look after them.”