Care Homes: Coronavirus

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 7th September 2020.

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Photo of Lord Alton of Liverpool Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the comments by the UN Human Rights Commissioner about the operation of care homes during the COVID-19 pandemic; what assessment they have made of reports of care home staff (1) abandoning care homes, (2) leaving residents to die alone, (3) failing to make adequate preparations, and (4) failing to provide guidance and personal protection equipment; what assessment they have made, in assessing such reports, of the human rights of patients and staff in care homes; and what plans they have to support the call for a UN convention on the rights of the elderly.

Photo of Lord Bethell Lord Bethell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

The Government is aware of comments on care homes during the COVID-19 pandemic made by the UN Special Rapporteurs and the UN Independent Expert.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is not aware of any specific reports of care home staff abandoning care homes or specific cases where residents have been left to die alone. The CQC (Registration) Regulations 2009 set out requirements for incidents and events that must be reported to the CQC, which covers deaths and serious injuries, abuse, incidents reported to the police and events that prevent a service from being carried on safely and in a way that meets legal requirements.

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, each care provider was responsible for sourcing their own personal protective equipment (PPE) from wholesalers and distribution centres. While this was effective and appropriate before the outbreak, it became clear that this fragmented system would be slow to get PPE where it needed to be. To address this, the United Kingdom Government stepped in to support the supply and distribution of PPE to the care sector. We have focused on ensuring that there is an emergency supply in place, while building a longer-term solution for distribution to the sector.

We are supportive, in principle, of a multilateral instrument dedicated to the rights of older persons and welcome the work of the UN Open Ended Working Group on Ageing and its focus on substance to help deepen our understanding of the important issues, before we consider what might be the most appropriate solutions.

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