Care Homes are ‘like Prisons’ Post-Lockdown, MPs Told

- ‘Devastating‘ impact on residents’ mental health described at weekly all-party group on coronavirus
- Third evidence session streamed live on social media focused on impact of pandemic on social care settings
- Residents ‘losing the will to live’ charity head warns MPs
- Today’s full session here: https://tinyurl.com/y4q3uaw7

Care homes have become ‘like prisons’ since lockdown was enforced this year, with isolation having a ‘devastating’ impact on the mental health of residents, the all-party MPs’ group on coronavirus was told today/Wednesday.
 
In the third weekly live evidence session, Helen Wildbore, director of national charity the Relatives & Residents Association, outlined to MPs the ‘deteriorating’ well-being of many care users, including receiving daily calls of people losing weight, speech, memory and no longer being able to recognise family members after months of separation.
 
She said: “There’s one relative who put it to us: they are losing the will to live.”
 
The APPG (all-party parliamentary group), which was set up last month and has over 60 MPs and peers, heard from four groups at today’s session, streamed live on social media: Age UK, Independent Age, the Relatives & Residents Association and NHS Providers.
 
The R&RA, which supports people needing care and their relatives and friends who help them cope, urged the government and sector to find “a safe way to manage the virus going forward in care settings to achieve a better balance protecting life and protecting well-being”.
 
Director Helen Wildbore said that no risk assessments were carried out for the sudden ending of visits to relatives, which cut off vital support networks, adding: “That demonstrates a lack of understanding about the role that many relatives play as an essential part of the care team for their relatives.”
 
The director of R&RA outlined that many residents faced “double isolation” during the lockdown, including isolation from both external contacts and internally from care homes restricting movements and asking residents to remain in their rooms.
 
“Shared areas would be closed, lack of activities, so that people living in care homes were not getting the support and interactions they would normally get with other residents and with many staff members,” she said.
 
“If you take away that social element, the social support networks that people have, homes become very different places and sadly many of the callers to our helpline have been telling us that the current situation in care homes is now very much like a prison.”
 
The virtual Zoom evidence sessions are being live streamed every Wednesday during August and September, and the rapid inquiry will be releasing recommendations throughout the summer.   At the last PMQs before recess two weeks ago, Boris Johnson said he would be “very happy to look” at what the group comes up with.
 
MPs who have joined the all-party group in the last three weeks include former ministers David Davis and Harriett Baldwin (Conservative), shadow minister for veterans Sharon Hodsgon (Labour), Christine Jardine (Liberal Democrats), Stuart McDonald (SNP), Ben Lake (Plaid) and Alliance Party of Northern Ireland MP Dr Stephen Farry.  Full list below.
 
Former pensions minister and Conservative peer Baroness Ros Altmann, a member of the APPG, said: “This is not about apportioning blame - rather we need to learn lessons quickly from failings in social care and ensure government is treating the care sector fairly, with adequate testing and PPE, while ensuring medical staff are available.
 
“Care homes are not set up as hospitals and the NHS should not treat care home residents as second class patients who can just be discharged without first being sure they will have the care they require, and will not infect other staff or residents or partners and carers at home.  The lack of connection between NHS and social care has cost lives and we need to learn those lessons now.”
 
Members of the public can watch the weekly, 11.30am-1.30pm Wednesday live streamed evidence sessions on social media:
-        Twitter: https://twitter.com/AppgCoronavirus
-        Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/march4change/
 
Campaign group March for Change helped set up the all-party group and is the APPG secretariat.  In June, it organised a letter signed by 27 leading medics and scientists calling on the PM to order a public inquiry to prepare Britain for a second wave of the coronavirus this winter, warning that many more will die unless the country improves its response.
 
The 27 experts, including professors in virology, public health, epidemiology and other relevant fields, said there was an urgent need to fix shortcomings in Westminster’s coronavirus response, which have contributed to the UK suffering one of the highest death rates in the world.
 
March for Change also has a petition with over 115,000 signatures demanding a public inquiry into the UK government handling of coronavirus. The petition is hosted on the March for Change website: https://www.marchforchange.uk/coronavirus_inquiry
 
Organisations or individuals can submit evidence to the rapid inquiry online via https://www.marchforchange.uk/secure_submission_form
 
Full list of APPG MPs and peers:
Layla
Moran (chair)
MP
Lib Dem
Dan
Poulter (VC)
MP
Con
Clive
Lewis (VC)
MP
Lab
Liz
Saville-Roberts (VC)
MP
Plaid
Jenny
Jones (VC)
Peer
Green
Philippa
Whitford (VC)
MP
SNP
Debbie
Abrahams (VC)
MP
Lab
Munira
Wilson (VC)
MP
Lib Dem
Caroline
Lucas
MP
Green
Baroness
Masham
Peer
Crossbench
Baroness
Altmann
Peer
Con
Tony
Lloyd
MP
Lab
Stephen
Metcalfe
MP
Con
Harriett
Baldwin
MP
Con
Andrew
Gwynne
MP
Lab
Barbara
Keeley
MP
Lab
Stuart
McDonald
MP
SNP
Ben
Lake
MP
Plaid
Rachael
Maskell
MP
Lab
Mick
Whitley
MP
Lab
Stephen
Farry
MP
Alliance
Tracy
Brabin
MP
Lab
Bill
Esterson
MP
Lab
Wera
Hobhouse
MP
Lib Dem
David
Davis
MP
Con
Jamie
Stone
MP
Lib Dem
Wendy
Chamberlain
MP
Lib Dem
George
Howarth
MP
Lab
Sharon
Hodgson
MP
Lab
Rosie
Cooper
MP
Lab
Kim
Johnson
MP
Lab
Lord
McColl
Peer
Con
Baroness
Bonham-Carter
Peer
Lib Dem
Bell
Ribeiro-Addy
MP
Lab
Baroness
Tonge
Peer
Non-affiliated
Lord
Mendelsohn
Peer
Lab
Lord
Dubs
Peer
Lab
Baroness
Andrews
Peer
Lab
Lord
Jones
Peer
Lib Dem
Alex
Sobel
MP
Lab
Viscount
Waverley
Peer
Crossbench
Lord
Strasburger
Peer
Lib Dem
Beth
Winter
MP
Lab
Christine
Jardine
MP
Lib Dem
Baroness
Benjamin
Peer
Lib Dem
Baroness
Finlay
Peer
Crossbench
Lord
Russell
Peer
Crossbench
Baroness
Lister
Peer
Lab
Baroness
Sheehan
Peer
Lib Dem
Lord
Patel
Peer
Crossbench
Baroness
Kidron
Peer
Crossbench
Lord
Loomba
Peer
Crossbench
Lord
Young
Peer
Lab
Baroness
Brinton
Peer
Lib Dem
Lord
Bilimoria
Peer
Crossbench
Lord
Bird
Peer
Crossbench
Lisa
Cameron
MP
SNP
Lord
Truscott
Peer
Non-affiliated
Baroness
McGregor-Smith
Peer
Con
Lord
Tebbit
Peer
Con
Rosie
Duffield
MP
Lab
Rushanara
Ali
MP
Lab
Baroness
Campbell
Peer
Crossbench
Dean
Russell
MP
Con
Claire
Hanna
MP
SDLP
Daisy
Cooper
MP
Lib Dem
 
-        #CovidInquiry
-        @AppgCoronavirus
 
Ends
 
Press info: Howard Bowden, howardbowden@marchforchange.uk, 07720 839 852
 
Notes to editors: 
March for Change is a grassroots campaign founded in 2019.  Having set up the APPG, the March for Change campaign will fill the function of the group's secretariat.  More info here: https://appgcoronavirus.marchforchange.uk/appg_details

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