By Rosalind Hughes, founder of Just Caring Legal
I have been deeply affected by the many cases I have witnessed this week as people see their vulnerable relatives become casualties of the coronavirus crisis.
These are the hidden victims – those in care homes, with rapidly declining dementia, at the end of life, or with severe mental health needs. Often behind closed doors, yet fiercely loved, they appear to be falling through the ever widening cracks in the care system.
Navigating the system in these new and challenging times
I will say this in the strongest way I can. The government put together the new emergency coronavirus legislation at lightning speed. It is untested, open to interpretation. It requires close scrutiny. And it makes the care assessment system, always something of a maze, even more difficult and mystifying to navigate.
But the bottom line is this. The State still has a duty to meet the unmet care needs of the weakest and most vulnerable, and to keep them safe from harm and neglect. Our most incapacitated citizens still have a right to life, safety and security. Where there is unmet need, health and social care professionals must still respond in whatever way they can. While their personal safety is of course vital, they must still find ways to assess and meet those care needs. This may mean digital technologies where necessary as a viable alternative to no assessment.
Getting solid, practical advice is essential
My message is simple. If you feel something isn’t right, that your family member is in danger, or you feel excluded from decisions concerning their future, do not just accept no for an answer. It is all too easy in the current climate of emergency decision-making for people to slip through the net. But even – perhaps especially – in this climate it is vital to get solid, practical advice. So be proactive. Pick up the phone. Let me help you personally, or at the very least point you in the right direction.
Our lives will all be touched at some point by this terrible virus. And every single one of us must have a voice. So if you need to find a voice to get vital care for a vulnerable relative, I can help with that. I hope you can help me get this message out. Because this week has shown me it really can save lives.