Campaigners launch legal challenge to ‘discriminatory’ care home rules

Campaigner’s have launched legal action against the Government over its guidance which bans people in residential care over the age of 65 from taking trips outside the home, branding the rules “discriminatory”.

John’s Campaign, which fights for relatives to have better access to their loved ones while they are in care, argues that by imposing a blanket ban regardless of the health of the individual, the Government is acting unlawfully.

It said the Equality Act 2010 prohibits indirect discrimination, but the guidance on care home visits “permits (indeed, requires) just such a discriminatory approach to be taken”.

It is also fighting to have the rules on self-isolation, which dictate anyone who leaves a care home must self-isolate for 14 days upon return, to be overturned.

Some care homes have been stopping residents from going outside into garden areas since the beginning of the pandemic, while others are forcing residents to spend up to 14 days in isolation every time they go to hospital.

The government guidance, updated on 8 March, says trips to see family or friends “should only be considered” for under-65s while national Covid restrictions apply because they increase the risk of bringing Covid into a home.

Visits out for residents, whatever their age, “should be supported in exceptional circumstances such as a visit to a friend or relative at the end of their life”, it adds – but on returning to the home, the resident must self-isolate for two weeks.

The legal letter sent to the Department of Health and Social Care by John’s Campaign says the decision whether someone can go on a visit outside a care home should be based on individual risk assessments.

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