Published: 14 May 2020
Commenting on support and care for older people during the coronavirus pandemic and concerns about breaches of human rights, David Isaac, Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:
“We welcome announcements of additional support for care homes in responding to the devastating impact of coronavirus on their residents. However, we remain deeply concerned about serious potential breaches of older people’s human rights during this pandemic. The discharge of COVID-positive older people from hospital into care homes, examples of inappropriate blanket healthcare decisions on issues such as Do Not Attempt Resuscitation notices, and the lack of sufficient PPE for care workers have contributed to considerable distress, lack of confidence that their rights will be protected and ultimately to loss of life.
“We know that many older people are vulnerable to chronic loneliness at this time. The majority of those aged 70 upwards do not have access to the internet, and with their usual support networks absent, can struggle with shopping and staying connected to loved ones. This can lead to a rapid deterioration in health and wellbeing for this group, many of whom have also been less likely to seek support for other health conditions in recent weeks.
“The current crisis has raised serious questions about how we value the rights of older people in our society. But it also offers an opportunity for us to change this as we rebuild. We are working closely with partners representing the interests of older people, and are considering use of all our powers to protect their rights now and following the pandemic.”