Care home relatives should be given key worker status, says R&RA


A leading care campaign group has called for care home relatives to be given key worker status.

The Relatives & Residents Association (R&RA) issued the call following this month’s launch of its #EndIsolationInCare campaign.

Chair, Judy Downey, (pictured) said: “We are delighted that our call for free PPE in July has been answered in the Winter Plan guidance and hope that the distribution mechanism will be effective to ensure that workers in care homes and in the community will finally be fully protected.  Now we call for essential visitors to care homes to be given the same status as key workers to ensure safety remains at the highest levels inside homes.”

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While welcoming the Winter Plan’s recognition that it is “important to allow care home residents to safely meet their loved ones, especially for those at the end of life” and its encouragement to “providers to find innovative ways of allowing safe contact between residents and their family members”, Judy pointed out this is contradicted by then informing providers that this should be limited “to a single constant visitor, with an absolute maximum of two per resident”.

“The R&RA Helpline continues to hear residents’ ongoing heart-breaking experiences of separation from partners or children as the direct result of banned or restricted visits,” Judy added.

“Of course, safety is important but residents also need the love and support they rely on for a decent quality of life and the relationships which make their lives worth living.  We need the Government to better support homes to ensure that decisions are made on a humane and individual basis as required by law, so that visits can go ahead as safely as possible.”

Judy said the requirement for all visitors to be supervised at all times was “demeaning and unacceptable” and breached the Mental Capacity, the Human Rights Act and the Equality Act, as well as other legislation.

“Regardless of age or disability, people must have a right to the dignity of being with family and friends in private.  It seems an extraordinary measure and speaks volumes about how families and residents are viewed.  We fervently hope that the Government will realise this and amend their guidance accordingly.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We know limiting visits in care homes has been very difficult for many families and residents who want to see their loved ones. Our first priority is to prevent infections in care homes and Local Directors of Public Health are responsible for the policy on care home visits in their areas and should give a regular professional assessment of whether visiting is likely to be appropriate within the local authority, taking into account the wider risks.

“The Adult Social Care Winter Plan sets out tightened infection prevention and control measures to enable visits to continue safely where possible. We expect any area listed as an ‘area of intervention’ to immediately restrict visiting to exceptional circumstances only.

“Our testing support for care homes continues and any resident or member of staff with symptoms can immediately access a free test. We are exploring ways to increase the amount of testing, making full use of available lab capacity.”

Tags : CoronavirusLegislation

The author Lee Peart


  1. Key visitors to care homes are spouses we often live alone and do not have much contact with others having shopping delivered to our homes. Care workers on the other hand have families to go home to who may mix with others at work school or social settings, painters, decorators builders carpenters have all been allowed in care homes often without PPE! What makes these people so much more acceptable as less likely to be infectious that tke family visitors? why are we treated like pariah? Why is it assumed that we are more likely to be infectious when in fact we are less likely to be infectious! What benefit has a freshly painted wall got to offer the residents that can better the love and reassurance of a wife or husband why can’t we be given key worker status so we can be tested and prove we are not a threat! Our human rights are being violated without justifiable cause since tests are available! Why are we being denied tests which would solve the problem and end the misery! our marriages are being trampled all over and nobody cares that we are living in Hell! Why are we not being listened to, is there no compassion? That which God hath joined together let no man put asunder! Worse than a bad man who does bad things is a good man who does nothing stop with the excuses and Take action NOW!

    1. My mum caught Covid in her care home when no visitors were allowed in and mum not allowed out “the home don’t know how she got it”. I know from a carer living a normal life not a cautious family member!. Mum is covid free after 3 weeks in hospital where she nearly died. and is,now under pallative care. All she wants is her daughters on a regular basis and to get outside the care home doors for a 10 minute walk in her wheelchair. ALSO NOT ALLOWED. The care home don’t understand she has had covid. After watching her through a window (the cruelty of this is unbelievable) finally we can go in for ann hour. Times mon-fri 2 /3 / 4 pm no weekends. We both work. Each week this situation just gets more and more cruel. Where are my mums human rights?

  2. My mum is 96yrs next month and in desperate need of my company and reassurance inside her carehome. We are pleading for one family member to be given key worker status so we can be with our loved one. This is heartbreaking to see my mum’s dementia deteriorating at such a fast pace. I fear she will not be here long and she has no will to live. PLEASE HELP

    1. Hi Jean,
      Sorry to hear about your difficulties in seeing your mother. Please contact the Relatives & Resident Association helpline: 020 7359 8136

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