I cannot help but reflect that this time last year, after months of the care home blanket visiting ban / restricted visiting, my younger sister disabled by stroke and dementia, with no voice of her own, gave up on life / stopped accepting nutrition. Through Oct / Nov my only contact was a 20 minute weekly ‘visit’ – watching her slowly die through her care home window, only allowed inside in her final days. Despite having an exceptional Social Worker on side, pleas for ‘exceptional circumstance’ access, to encourage my sister to accept nutrition, were denied.
Regardless that the country was given their Freedom Day in July – and despite the introduction of updated Government guidance – many care home residents still endure a restricted visiting regime – timed visits / not in the privacy of their own room – in pods like prisoners, residents still often isolated in their rooms. Every care home resident is now entitled to an ECG – Essential Caregiver – a key visitor who can come and go at will – tested as staff. Sadly this is guidance, not law, therefore at the discretion of individual home managers / care providers many of whom continue to operate their own rules.
I am a member of the campaign group Rights For Residents – much of the updated visiting ‘guidance’ is down to the determination of this group submitting evidence to the JHRC, presented to Parliament in May of this year. A petition containing over 269,000 signatures was recently handed into Downing Street calling on Government to mandate ECG status in law. We await the outcome, the elderly and vulnerable in society not being a priority with Government!
RFR recently shared a document prepared by Leeds Healthcare Trust in conjunction with Healthwatch and Leeds Care Association, Essential Care Giver (key visitor) Myth-Buster.
I am forwarding this document to County Durham Healthwatch in the hope that they / DCC Public Health Dept., will be persuaded to produce something similar. Meanwhile, I hope any relatives still struggling with restrictive visiting will be encouraged to approach their provider / request the ECG status their loved one is entitled to.
Many remain unaware of ECG status, some homes are not making the information freely available to relatives or maybe not interpreting the guidance correctly. If anyone requires further help, there is also information available on RFR Facebook page or website:
Margaret Davison