Published by BBC NEWS - 31st March 2022

care home visit

Image source, Getty Images

People living in care homes have secured the right to have visits from a loved one – even in a Covid outbreak.

Some families still do not have regular contact with their relatives in care homes more than two years after the start of the pandemic.

This will now change after the Scottish government put the proposed “Anne’s law” into national standards.

Residents will now be allowed a named visitor into the care home even when restrictions are in place.

These changes should mean the law is put into effect while the legislation is being prepared.

Anne’s law is named after Anne Duke whose family campaigned for better visiting rights during the pandemic.

Anne was cut off from her family while battling early-onset dementia and at points in the pandemic, Anne did not see anyone from her family for months.

She died in November 2021, aged 63.

Her daughter Natasha Hamilton said: “This is a legacy for everybody who will be going into care, who is still in care and who sadly isn’t with us any more.

“This is something we want to put in place to remember everything we have gone through the past two years and the fight that we have had to bring this to the forefront.”

Anne Duke and Natasha Hamilton

When she launched the Anne’s law campaign, Natasha said: “I find it absolutely awful thinking what is going through her head just now – that those faces she used to know, visiting her all the time, are no longer there. That part hurts me more than me not being able to see my mum.

“We have to learn from this so that care home residents are not kept apart from their families for almost a year again. Residents in care homes have to be living, not just existing.”

‘Dignified manner’

The Care Inspectorate will be tasked with ensuring care homes meet the standards for visiting rights.

Social care minister Kevin Stewart said: “We are fulfilling our pledge to introduce the provisions of Anne’s Law as quickly as possible by using our existing legal powers to help ensure care home visitors can be involved in the care and support of their loved ones.

“We will go further by including Anne’s Law within the new National Care Service Bill, with that legislation due to be introduced to the Scottish Parliament in the coming months.

“We are clear in our expectation that care home residents must have their care delivered in a dignified manner that reflects their rights.”

Anne Duke

A spokesperson for the campaign group Care Home Relatives Scotland said they were pleased with the standards.

They said: “Relatives and close friends of those in residential care are not simply visitors, but continue with a caring role and as the voice and representative for our loved ones.

“It is reassuring to know we will always have the right to uphold that essential contact.

“We look forward to working together with all care home staff to ensure the standards are respected and upheld.”

‘Gives clarity’

Dr Jane Douglas from Scottish Care, the organisation representing most care homes, said: “What I like about these standards is that as a manager of a care home I would feel really confident that they are really clear and that’s what I can apply to what I am doing.

“It gives me that clarity that I can continue to have visiting if there is an outbreak. We have been running on guidance for the last two years which changes regularly. This will be something that managers and staff in a care home can look to and apply and that makes it much easier. “

Minister Kevin Stewart said that relatives should be able to see a difference immediately.

He said: ” If you don’t do so then I would want to know about it so we can challenge those who are not following the new guidance.”

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