Absence of vital respite care is ‘a potential death sentence for family carers’ says Revitalise CEO Jan Tregelles
Absence of vital respite care is a potential death sentence for family carers, says Revitalise CEO Jan Tregelles
Government guidance is making emergency respite care impossible
Pressures on unpaid home carers, nursing and caring for a seriously ill or disabled loved one, 24 hours a day, have become intolerable.
This is the consequence of the emergency Coronavirus Act which has allowed Local Authorities to axe their duty of care responsibilities towards the disabled and the elderly. As a result, desperate families have been stripped of valuable home and community support at a time when they need it most.
For 57 years, Revitalise has provided respite care breaks to a huge range of people. These are a vital lifeline to so many unpaid home carers and their disabled family members.
At the start of the pandemic, the Government abandoned care homes completely. Now, in trying to rectify this, they have imposed blanket 14-day isolation guidelines for anybody entering any care setting. These are indiscriminate and prohibit access to emergency respite care for people who are already desperate. In short, this guidance is flawed and failing those who need it most.
This is completely contrary to what is happening in the NHS, where inevitably, emergency treatment cannot require any isolation period whatsoever.
Revitalise CEO Jan Tregelles said: “I have been told by countless carers that they are desperate and have nowhere to turn for help. They need emergency respite now. I am appalled that the Government guidance has continued to leave them forgotten, alone and stranded.
“You only have to listen to the outcry from holidaymakers faced with the prospect of quarantining for fourteen days on return. People will drive through the night or pay thousands for flights to avoid these restrictions, yet those who have already been isolated for six months and urgently need respite are expected to comply. This is not two weeks of inconvenience; this is a matter of life or death.”
James Taylor, Executive Director of Strategy, Impact and Social Change at disability equality charity Scope, said: “Disabled people and their families have been amongst the hardest hit throughout the Coronavirus pandemic and this is yet another example of how their needs have been forgotten. Respite care breaks can play an important role and help relieve some of the pressures families face. We know from the increase in demand that we have seen to Scope’s own family support services and helpline that Coronavirus has had unbearable consequences on the mental health and wellbeing of disabled people and carers. The Government needs to prioritise the needs of disabled people and their families who have endured so much throughout the pandemic.
John Turner, CEO of the Respite Association, added: “The need for respite has never been so vital. The COVID 19 situation has been devastating for carers, adding genuine fear to the isolation that so many already felt. The Respite Association and Revitalise have been inundated with carers in some truly desperate situations, who just need a chance to catch their breath, but have no way to do that.
“Organisations like Revitalise that normally provide these services are hampered by the care home guidelines, which are wholly inappropriate for respite breaks. Thousands of desperate carers need our help now before they burn out; The Respite Association and Revitalise give them hope, which is not much to ask for given the sacrifices they make day in and day out.”
None of us know what the next 12 months will bring, but unless the current crisis faced by home carers is addressed, the future looks bleak for thousands of families. In response, Revitalise are launching a new campaign, titled Care For Carers.
Jan Tregelles concluded: “Levelling-up must include everyone. With Covid-19 infections increasing across the country and the imposition of more restrictions and isolation, there needs to be a change. Don’t let the absence of respite care become a death sentence for home carers already at breaking point.
“We urge Government to shine a light on the hidden impact of COVID-19 and to look again at their public health restrictions which make essential short-term respite care breaks impossible. Exhausted home carers need our help and they need it now.”