Care homes residents 'held captive' as Covid rules force 14-day isolation every time they leave

Some care home residents feel trapped. Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Care home residents are being "held captive", their relatives say, due to government guidance requiring them to isolate for 14 days every time they leave their facility.

Families have hit out at “outrageous deprivations of liberty” over the guidance, with the sister of a disabled woman labelling the rule "barbaric".

The daughter of another care home resident described her mother’s situation as akin to “being under house arrest”.

The Department of Health and Social Care guidance says the rule aims to ensure residents who may become unknowingly infected do not pass coronavirus to other residents and staff.

The guidance says there's a "requirement that a resident making a visit out of the care home should isolate for 14 days on their return"

It adds: "We recognise that in practice, this is likely to mean that many residents will not wish to make a visit out of the home."

John’s Campaign claims it encourages care homes to act unlawfully by “falsely imprisoning” residents, and has threatened the Government with legal action.

It has also sent the Government testimony from seven families describing the impact of the isolation requirement.

These include Lucy, who has been unable to take her mother out of her care home to the local park to look at the spring flowers. The pair have both been vaccinated.

Mother and daughter used to visit the garden centre together before the pandemic, and Lucy said her mother is becoming depressed due to being kept indoors.

She said: “There is a sign in some care homes that says ‘residents do not live in our workplace, we work in their home’, yet sadly care home residents seem to be being held captive.

“It’s like being under house arrest. Even prisoners have a projected release date when entering prison but these elders have no such hope and their clocks are ticking louder than anyone’s - they are alive but not living.”

Another relative, Dorothy, who wants to take her 89-year-old mother by wheelchair across the road to see the flowers for an hour, added: “This year’s daffodils might be the last ones she will get to see.”

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Michael, the son of another resident, said he does not want isolation to be forced on his mother again after months on her own.

He said: “My mother is more at risk from the staff who are forced to impose these draconian rules than she is from her own family.

“I’m at my wits end with these outrageous deprivations of liberty and mental abuse of entirely innocent and powerless people.

“I asked my mother what she wanted for Christmas and she said she didn’t want anything but to come to visit me and my family.”

Flora, whose disabled sister Kate lives in the grounds of a care home, said the isolation requirement is “barbaric and prohibitive”.

Kate would stay with Flora regularly prior to the pandemic but the current guidance means this would not be possible without isolating.

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The sisters have both received two doses of a coronavirus vaccine.

She asked: “What will need to change for care homes to allow people out? What is the roadmap?

“With the vaccinations, this is as good as it is ever going to be for care home residents, you can never mitigate against all risks.”

Susan said her 89-year-old father, who has had two doses of the vaccine, feels like he is living in a prison.

She said: “We are not all in this together, because there is a huge difference between what some people are allowed to do.

“I don’t see why we are all having these vaccinations unless people can then go out.”

Names have been changed to protect the identity of the families.