By Tara Rippin • 10 March 2021 • 15:15
Denial of care home visits breaches human rights, says Commissioner for Older People in Northern Ireland.
EDDIE Lynch said he is deeply concerned about possible breaches of human rights as a result of older people in care homes still being denied visits from families for many months.
He has expressed his concern that many of these residents are still unable to receive safe face-to-face visits with family members despite the roll out of the vaccination programme, regular testing and other precautions having been put in place.
Many families have contacted the Commissioner seeking his help for care home providers to comply with the Department of Health guidance to create opportunities for safe visiting of care home residents.
“I have been working with authorities to try to get care homes to facilitate visits in a limited and safe way, so that families who have been separated for months can meet again.”
Many families desperate to visit their relatives said they feel their loved ones are being ‘held hostage’ or being ‘treated like a prisoner’.
“Fortunately, in most cases, we have been able to work with care home providers to get these situations resolved. However, I remain concerned that the cases we are dealing with could be the tip of the iceberg and that many other families and residents may still be unfairly denied this important contact,” added the Commissioner.
He said that, given that many of these older people will be in the latter stages of their lives, “it is critical that where visiting can be done safely, that it is facilitated immediately”.
Residents’ campaigner Julieann McNally from Care Home Advice and Support NI (CHASNI) added: “We have all the protections in place to facilitate safe face-to-face visiting including PPE, IPC measures, vaccinations, testing of visitors weekly with staff and guidance issued from the Department of Health and the Public Health Agency, but some providers still insist on keeping doors closed.
“This must be addressed as a matter of urgency.”
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Tara Rippin is a reporter for Spain’s largest English-speaking newspaper, Euro Weekly News, and is responsible for the Costa Blanca region.
She has been in journalism for more than 20 years, having worked for local newspapers in the Midlands, UK, before relocating to Spain in 1990.
Since arriving, the mother-of-one has made her home on the Costa Blanca, while spending 18 months at the EWN head office in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol.
She loves being part of a community that has a wonderful expat and Spanish mix, and strives to bring the latest and most relevant news to EWN’s loyal and valued readers.
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