Nadhim Zahawi pleads for care homes to 'work with us' to allow visitors

5 May 2021, 08:51 | Updated: 5 May 2021, 09:00

By Fiona Jones

Nick Ferrari challenges Nadhim Zahawi to "put more effort in" as some care homes are refusing family visits despite Covid rules relaxing.

Care home residents are now able to leave for "low risk" visits without isolating for 14 days on their return.

During visits residents must follow social distancing and be accompanied by a member of staff or one of the two nominated loved ones throughout.

Despite the measures easing, some care homes are refusing to allow in-person interaction between families and residents due to factors such as staffing shortages and insurance.

"We want people to have the best possible outcome," the vaccines minister told Nick, "Helen [Whateley] is working very hard to make sure that we engage with [care home managers.]"

Read more: Care home coronavirus rules: what are the latest changes?

"My message to them is please please where you can work with us to make sure the residents really do get the freedoms they deserve."

Nick challenged Mr Zahawi: "You can understand the frustration of some of my listeners. They're desperate to see Grandad...and the care home for all the right reasons is saying no. I'm just wondering whether we can put a little more effort into this."

The vaccines minister said that social care minister Helen Whateley is "absolutely focused on this" as she understands the importance of residents being visited by loved ones.

A new report by cross-party MPs is calling for the rights of care home residents to have visits must be "underpinned" by law.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights said it was "unacceptable" that some care home providers had argued it was not safe to follow government guidance and had also not felt bound by this guidance.

Labour MP Harriet Harman, the committee chair, said: "By not underpinning this guidance in law, care homes have not felt bound by it and important rights have therefore not been respected.

"The Care Quality Commission assurances that visits are being allowed properly now in all homes is wholly unconvincing.

"Because care homes see guidance about allowing visits as advisory rather than binding, the government must now bring forward regulations to give their guidance on visits legal force."

The DHSC has changed the rules after being threatened with legal action by the charity John's Campaign.

Campaigners say the strict rules encourage care homes to act unlawfully by "falsely imprisoning" residents, with family members calling it "barbaric"