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John’s Campaign cautiously welcomes change to 14-day self-isolation guidance to care homes

John’s Campaign has cautiously welcomed the change to the government guidance that required care home residents to self-isolate for 14 days following a visit out.

Posted on 01 May 2021

The group supporting care home residents and their families says the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) has bowed to public pressure and its threat of legal action that was due to be filed at court next week.

John’s Campaign co-founders Julia Jones and Nicci Gerrard, represented by Leigh Day solicitors Tessa Gregory and Carolin Ott, had their legal papers ready to apply for permission for judicial review of DHSC Guidance to care homes in England that said care home residents should self-isolate for 14 days following any trip out of their place of residence.

They were in correspondence with government lawyers and had made it plain that court proceedings would be issued next week unless the government guidance on visits out of care homes was amended as it created a risk of illegality in that it made it likely that care providers would act unlawfully, in three possible ways:

  • It made it likely that care providers would falsely imprison care home residents.
  • It made it likely that care providers would deprive residents of their liberty, contrary to Article 5 ECHR
  • The guidance encouraged care home providers to ignore their obligations under the Equality Act 2010 and/or Article 14 ECHR (in particular, not to indirectly discriminate against residents and/or not to treat different cases differently)

The change to the guidance, announced this morning, says that from Tuesday 4 May, residents will be able to leave their care homes to visit a friend or family member’s garden, or go on walks in places such as parks, public gardens and beaches and will not have to self-isolate when they return.

However, the guidance does not make clear that that those leaving for medical appointments and for overnight visits will not be required to self-isolate for 14 days, and John’s Campaign will be considering their viewpoint on this lack of clarity.

Julia Jones said:

“It should never have been considered permissible to confine adult members of society, without their consent (or those who speak for them) merely because their address happens to be that of a care home. This government started promising 'guidance' on visits out of care homes in July 2020, failed to deliver on their promise throughout the summer and autumn until they managed an abortive, age-discriminatory attempt in December which was soon rescinded.

“As the rest of society have been increasingly able to go about their business, and staff come in and out of the homes daily, this group of people have been wrongfully imprisoned for over a year. The threat of 14-day isolation is a refinement of cruelty for which there is no legal or scientific justification. It does incalculable harm to mental and physical well-being and has been a serious disincentive to people seeking the healthcare that is their citizen's right."

Leigh Day partner Tessa Gregory said:

“It appears under the threat of legal proceedings, due to be issued next week, the Government have finally agreed to drop the blanket requirement that care home residents self-isolate for 14 days following any visit out. This will be a huge relief to residents, families and care homes who have all been crying out for change. This is good news but as always the devil will be in the detail and our client, John’s Campaign, will be scrutinising the new guidance once it is published to ensure that it is lawful and fit for purpose.”

Nicci Gerrard said:

“Of course this is good news, a chink of light for residents of care homes and their families, and a victory for all those people who have been eloquent in their campaign against the 14-day rule. But why did this rule ever exist in the first place - depriving people of their liberty, turning care homes into prison, treating one group of people with such cruelty?”

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