The Relatives & Residents Association (R&RA) has called for a blanket two-week quarantine after care home trips to be lifted as a matter of urgency.
Helen Wildbore, director of the R&RA, (pictured) was speaking after evidence given by Care Minister, Helen Whately, and the CQC.
Helen said: “The response was very disappointing. Residents have faced a double isolation, of restrictions on visitors coming in and restrictions on being able to go out.
“Our helpline hears the serious impact this is having on people’s wellbeing. Older people living in care are being left behind, unable to get out, enjoy the spring and reconnect with family and friends like the rest of the country. The blanket quarantine should be lifted as a matter of urgency.”
Helen also accused the CQC of being “out of touch” following its evidence on visiting, adding: “Our helpline continues to hear from families unable to get visits, where care homes are applying blanket approaches – such as 30 mins visits – and failing to carry out individual assessments to ensure people’s wellbeing needs are met.
“The regulator should not be waiting for families to tell them about problems during this crisis, especially as so many are afraid to speak out for fear of reprisals, including eviction. That’s why we called on the CQC to take a proactive approach to monitoring compliance with the visiting guidance. For the regulator to be failing to actively monitor compliance and using their lack of data to report to Parliament that all is well is totally unacceptable.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Contact with family and friends is vital to the health and wellbeing of residents and we are doing everything we can to create safe opportunities to meet.
“As we continue to move cautiously along our roadmap we want to enable care home residents to enjoy a range of trips out of the care home, wherever it is safe and proportionate to do so.
“Our journey out of lockdown is focused on data, not dates and the guidance on visits out of care homes will be kept under review including looking again at the requirement for residents to isolate on their return from a visit, when the data show its safe.”
Kate Terroni, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at CQC, responded: “The past year has been heart-breaking for so many who have lost loved ones, but also for those who have been unable to see family and friends in care homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have been clear throughout the pandemic that the individual must be at the centre of decisions around visiting. We have developed a new inspection programme focused on Infection Prevention Control and we have a mandatory question on each of our care home inspections which looks at how visiting is being supported to happen in a safe way. We have also been clear with providers that blanket approaches to visiting are unacceptable and may trigger an inspection.
Kate highlighted the CQC’s joint Because We All Care’ campaign with Healthwatch England in which has doubled the information the regulator receives from the public.
“This information helps inform our view of quality and risk and 54% of our responsive inspections have been triggered by information receive from people who draw on care, their loved ones or those working in social care,” Kate said.
The chief inspector said it had taken action on concerns about 27 potential blanket bans, adding: “We expect providers to follow government guidance on visiting where people are entitled to have designated visitors, and where we are made aware that this is not happening we will follow up with the provider and inspect if we consider that there is risk.”
Kate concluded: “Care homes are people’s homes and no-one should live in fear of being penalised for raising issues. Sadly, we’re aware that this is not always the case. It is not acceptable for people to be treated unfairly if they raise concerns and I am clear that appropriate action will be taken if we find providers failing in their responsibilities.”