Sheffield MPs join call for care home visiting rights to be enshrined in law

Two of Sheffield’s MPs have joined calls to enshrine the right for care home residents to see family in law.

Thursday, 4th February 2021, 4:45 pm

It comes as the the Joint Committee on Human Rights sent a letter to ministers on the impact of long lockdown on those in care homes, saying blanket bans on visits are in breach of the legal right to family life.

The committee this week drafted the new legislation to ensure visits were allowed by a “person significant to the service user”.

This mirrors law in Ontario, Canada, where a close relative is regarded as part of the care team for the purpose of visits and tests.

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Sheffield MPs Louise Haigh and Gill Furniss

Sheffield Council also said blanket bans are “unacceptable” and providers need to take all steps possible to enable regular, safe visits.

Gill Furniss, MP for Brightside and Hillsborough, said: “The last year has been heart wrenching for so many families as so many people have been separated for their loved ones.

“This is an important pledge for all of those who live in care homes or have family that do. In Sheffield, we can be proud that despite the tragedy of the pandemic, the council, NHS and care providers have worked together to ensure as much visiting as possible. It is right that successful local approaches are supported by a national guarantee and I hope the government will support this.”

Louise Haigh, MP for Sheffield Heeley, said: “Many care home residents were separated from their loved ones for almost a full year and it’s been utterly heart-breaking to hear from local families who were prevented from visiting partners, parents, and siblings.

Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh

“This lack of social contact and stimulation has also caused many residents’ mental and physical health to rapidly deteriorate, especially those with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

“Of course we need to prevent the spread of coronavirus in care homes but the government can, and should, take action to ensure that relatives are able to visit residents safely.

“For care home residents, contact with loved ones is not just ‘nice to have’, it’s crucial for their physical and mental wellbeing. Family members should be treated as keyworkers – with access to weekly testing and proper PPE – so they can safely visit.”

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Gill Furniss MP

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