The Commons are to debate ending isolation of care homes during future pandemics. The debate has been coordinated by campaign groups Rights for Residents and John’s Campaign, and the charity the Relatives & Residents Association. At least one visitor per resident should be allowed to visit, they insist. The debate will coincide with the publication of new data showing the harmful impact isolation from family continues to have.
Isolation is never a good thing. But in the pandemic it saved lives. We’ve seen the forced ending of isolation when Health Secretary Matt Hancock sent thousands of elderly patients into care homes during the pandemic. Covid infections spread like wildfire throughout the frail residents and thousands -more than 25,000, died as a result.
Also, on a practical point, carers worked their socks off to help residents not feel isolated during the pandemic. They were ingenious in finding ways to help families communicate. And later, when visiting began, after each one there needed to be a deep clean of the area.
This debate seems to reflect the push against segregation, in principle, as a means of stopping the spread of infection. It just doesn’t make sense. If it is adopted, and relatives can visit care homes during a pandemic, then why not those for the millions of people in their own homes?
This is not just about care homes. It’s calling for the end of segregation to prevent the spread of infections, which goes against all medical evidence and practice.