Visits to care homes during lockdown

The topic of visiting care home residents continues to hit the headlines this week. 

The government published guidance for visiting care home residents this week. Previously care home visits had been banned in Tier 2 and 3 areas.  The new guidance confirms that visits may continue during the lockdown period for England, so long as this is done in a COVID secure manner, using for example PPE and social distancing, and recording visits for Test & Trace. The new guidance comes following widespread pressure from charities and industry bodies to allow visits.

In addition, last month the Vice-President of the Court of Protection Mr Justice Hayden had indicated he considered the banning of care home visits to be unlawful in a memo which can be found here.

Such visits are likely to still cause controversy and difficulties. For example those with dementia or limited mental capacity may find seeing a loved one through a window or via a Perspex screen very difficult and struggle to communicate. 

The issue of care home visits also hit the headlines this week with reports of a 73 year retired nurse Ylenia Angeli being arrested for trying to remove her 97 year old mother Tina Thornborough from a care home.  As the family only had power of attorney for financial affairs and not for health, the care home was obliged to call the police.  Ms Angeli was later de-arrested. 

James Beresford, Private Wealth Partner at BLM, said: “Throughout this pandemic and lockdown, restricted access to loved ones in care has created a very difficult situation for many families, as they are prevented from spending time with them in what could be their final months and years. Sadly, I imagine this is going to be a recurrent issue for many other families as we navigate new national or local lockdowns.

“It is crucially important that care providers and families work together closely to ensure people’s best interests are at the heart of any action taken. It is a truly difficult and emotionally charged situation. This has really brought into focus the importance of a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney (H&W LPA) that provides the Attorney – typically a family member – with the authority to make decisions regarding personal issues such as where the donor of the power lives, the type of care received, and the authority to give or refuse consent for life sustaining treatment. 

“If someone does not have capacity to make decisions for themselves and the family do not have a H&W LPA this means that that the decisions on care and wellbeing are technically out of their control. Families with a H&W LPA would be involved in the decision-making process and the relevant meetings.

Jennifer Johnston, Associate, BLM

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