Committee calls for mandatory individualised assessments amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

Committee calls for mandatory individualised assessments amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Joint Committee on Human Rights has published a report requesting the government make the current requirements for individualised assessments for visits mandatory, by laying the draft regulations it has prepared. The existing requirements state that care home providers should not impose blanket bans on visiting during coronavirus (COVID-19) but should carry out individualised risk assessments of each resident. However, the Committee believes that without statutory force, residents have no legal recourse to require their providers to implement the guidance.

Key points from the report include:

• the government must protect residents in care homes, but it should also uphold their right to family life and ensure it is facilitated in practice

• the government’s guidance has not acknowledged the importance of families to the wellbeing of residents

• the Department for Health and Social Care has not consulted sufficiently when preparing guidance for the care home sector

• government guidance requiring residents to self-isolate for 14 days if they choose to leave their care home is excessive and designed to discourage such visits. This is not a proportionate interference with the Article 8 European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) rights of residents and their families

• the government and care home providers have a tough role of balancing the ECHR rights of residents to a family live with the need to protect the right to life of residents and staff, yet many providers exercise too much caution

• the government’s guidance should not be ‘second guessed or selectively applied by care home providers’ without a clear premise for doing so

• public authorities do not have a clear view of the care home sector’s adherence to the guidance on visits

Other key recommendations from the report include:

• the Care Quality Commission (CQC) should establish improved processes for collecting data and monitoring the right of care home residents to receive visitors

• the government and CQC should collaborate to implement a new process for residents that provides anonymity and gives families with reassurance that their relatives will not face retaliation for raising concerns about care home providers

Source: Care homes: Visiting restrictions during the covid-19 pandemic

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