Rights for Residents, along with a coalition of organisations, have written to local health and care leaders across England to promote the rights of people living in care settings and to highlight the importance of care users being able to access continued support from loved ones during outbreaks or lockdowns. This joint action was an initiative of Rights for Residents, The Relatives & Residents Association, and academic Dr Caroline Emmer De Albuquerque Green of King’s College London.
Many organisations, representing both care users and care providers, have signed the joint letter highlighting the severe detrimental effects of isolation, and its impacts on physical and mental health of people living in care settings. This letter highlights the role local health and care leaders play in protecting the rights of people living in care settings and aims to address the barriers to family contact that often occur when blanket approaches to visiting are applied. The letter also calls on local health and care teams to fulfil their legal duties by ensuring that restrictions on contact are proportionate, and provides them with information resources to help promote the role of ‘essential caregivers’ (ECGs) with care providers and families, to ensure that the vital nature of the ECG role is understood.
Jenny Morrison, co-founder of Rights for Residents, said “while we fully understand the need to limit footfall during an outbreak, this should not extend to those visits deemed essential. Given the present staff to resident ratio, the help of ECGs is vital in order for residents to be cared for safely. Removing this essential source of support is increasing pressure on exhausted care staff, at a time of extreme staff shortages and sickness levels.
ECGs are not just “visitors” – they share a unique personal history and relationship with their loved one. The care they provide simply cannot be replicated by care staff, no matter how wonderful or dedicated they are.
Nobody can pinpoint the exact time that someone will die and it is crucial to all involved, that residents are supported in the last months, weeks and days of life and not just the final hours. The impact of loneliness and isolation has far outweighed the impact of Covid, on care home residents, in the later part of the pandemic. We need to ensure that measures put in place to protect residents are proportionate to the current situation”.
Rights for Residents hope that the resources provided will support local health and care teams to improve communication with care providers about the vital ECG role during management of outbreaks in care settings. The right to access support from loved ones is central to the health and well-being of those living in care settings and it is our hope that this initiative will help ensure that these rights are upheld.
A copy of the letter, ECG Fact Sheet and ECG Poster can be viewed using the following links:
1) Letter to: Directors of Public Health, Directors of Adult Social Services, Local Authority Public Health Teams and UKHSA Health Protection Team.
2) ECG (Essential Care Giver) Fact Sheet
3. ECG(Essential Care Giver) Poster