Neglect of the elderly in our care homes: Amnesty Report
Amnesty International has published a report As if Expendable, of the scandalous treatment of the elderly in our care homes.
The UK government was clearly aware that the 400,000 residents of care homes in the UK – many of whom live with multiple health conditions physical dependency, dementia and frailty – were at exceptional risk to coronavirus. Yet at the height of the pandemic, despite this knowledge, it failed to take measures promptly and adequately to protect care homes.
Contrary to the claim by the secretary of state for Health and Social Care that a “protective ring” was put around care homes “right from the start,” a number of decisions and policies adopted by authorities at the national and local level in England increased care home residents’ risk of exposure to the virus – violating their rights to life, to health, and to non-discrimination.
Some of the UK government’s decisions with regard to care homes seem heedless at best. Up until 13 March 2020, two days after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, and despite having received information warning of asymptomatic coronavirus cases from its own advisers, the government advised care homes against the use of PPE. Its official guidance for care homes stated:
If neither the care worker nor the individual receiving care and support is symptomatic then no personal protective equipment is required above and beyond normal good hygiene practices.
In contrast to measures taken to boost NHS capacity, care home managers and staff told Amnesty International of a “complete breakdown” of systems in care homes in the first six weeks of the pandemic. They spoke of waiting to receive guidance, of struggling to access adequate amounts of PPE, and of having no access to testing, despite having to manage patients urgently discharged from hospitals, including those infected with COVID-19. These deficits put many of those most vulnerable to the virus at great risk—as well as endangering care home staff—and, in doing so, violated care home residents’ right to life, right to health, and right to non-discrimination.
The full report can be accessed from the link above.