April 28, 2020

MPs and commentators misguided to call for care home residents to be moved into hospitals

Politicians, notably shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth MP, and media commentators have called for elderly individuals to be moved out of care homes saying that they are not safe. These opinions are misinformed and out of step with the herculean efforts being taken by the care sector to look after and keep safe elderly and vulnerable residents.

To suggest that people should be moved out of a care home environment and into hospital unless they wish to be moved (or the care home environment cannot meet their needs) is inconsiderate, contrary to the rights of people to make decisions for themselves, and demonstrates a lack of recognition and understanding of the immense skills of an already under-appreciated workforce. Our greatest privilege is to know and care for others, and to be with them ensuring a comfortable, dignified and good death in a place of their choice.

Please do not allow politicians’ own perceptions of the care sector undermine the confidence we have in our staff to deliver the continued outstanding care and support needed to allow people to live and to die well in the place of their choice.

Covid-19 is here and we need to manage it as best we can, without blame, without pain, and in the comfort and dignity that everyone of us deserve. It is not easy, but it is possible.

The suggestion that we move everyone out of care homes demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the health and social care system and is totally unnecessary and harmful to our care workforce, care home residents and those who love them.

Mei-Ling Huang, a partner in the Social Care team at law firm RWK Goodman, the solicitors for the Care Association Alliance, adds:

“It may be well-intentioned, but the suggestion that people with Covid-19 should not receive care in care homes belies a fundamental misunderstanding of the interdependence between the NHS and the care system, the capacity in the system, and the skills of the people in the care sector.”

“We are seeing a lot of knee-jerk reactions which threaten to trample the rights of individuals to make their own decisions about where they live and their wishes about end of life care. It is especially important in times like this that we hold tightly to the principles that underpin the Mental Capacity Act and the Human Rights Act. We cannot make blanket decisions for groups of people. There are many nuances in this situation, which are being lost in the Covid-19 pandemonium.”

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