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16th April 2020 – FOR YOUR INFORMATION – LESE Pensioners’ Network   

Residential institutions in the eye of the COVID-19 storm: governments must act quickly to protect residents and personnel

The situation of older persons living in residential institutions in several European countries is alarming. Our recent report sheds light on how the pandemic threatens their human rights and what response is urgently needed.
Persons living and working in nursing and care facilities are more likely to be exposed to COVID-19 due to close proximity between residents and regular interactions with care staff. Because of underlying multi-morbidities, residents are also at great risks for adverse outcomes. In several countries, half of the deaths due to COVID-19 happens in care homes.
Reports of abandoned or even dead older persons in care institutions are shocking. Cases of older persons living in congregated settings being pressured to sign ‘do-not-resuscitate’ orders are alarming. Equally worrying are cases of residents being denied access to hospital care for life-saving treatments because they are considered “too old”. Such practices are unacceptable human rights violations.

“We all have the right to access medical, social and palliative care required by our health condition. These fundamental human rights do not diminish with age nor should they be denied to us depending on where we live”

Reminds Anne-Sophie Parent, Secretary General of AGE Platform Europe. In pandemic times when health and care systems are under pressure, ethical protocols are indispensable and chronological age cannot be the sole criterion for triage.
To put an end to these intolerable violations of human rights affecting the most vulnerable, we urge all national and local health and care authorities to take immediate action:
• In the short run, public authorities must urgently include COVID-19 cases and deaths happening in care institutions in their reports on the pandemic to stop considering COVID-19 related deaths in nursing homes as “normal” or “unavoidable”. We also urge them to urgently provide adequate resources for residents and staff to protect themselves adequately since physical distancing is difficult to apply to persons who are dependent on others’ support.
• In the long run, proper investments will be required in both social and long-term care services to ensure everyone has access to quality living environments and services that respect life choices and rights of individuals in need for support, and adequate working conditions for their carers.

Useful links:

14th April 2020 – National Pensioners Convention – General Secretary Update.

Can be found
here – NPC Website
Along with lots of other useful information.

1st April 2020 – Latest Information with regard to COVID-19

National Pensioners’ Convention Coronavirus & PPE statement.

Time for MP’s to step up to ensure priority protection for local health & care workers.

We have two favours to ask you. Firstly, if the lack of PPE for medics is a worry to you, please write to your own MP and ask what they are doing about this, and do let us know if you receive a reply.
Secondly,  it is important that the NPC keeps a track on how Covid-19 is impacting communities across the regions, and also how it is being handled by local services.  For example, are there still isolated older people being left out of the loop for help?  Is the Government’s ‘Shielding’ initiative for the country’s 1.5million most vulnerable people working effectively. Please us know.
This is not at all intended to criticise the many brave people working diligently across our care and support services to see us through this crisis. But it is important to ensure help is getting to those of us who need it most.

The National Pensioners’ Convention is appalled that weeks into the Coronavirus emergency medical and care staff are still without life-saving Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) – and still not being priority tested.
Despite Government promises, the NPC says many of its 1.5 million members are reporting a widespread lack of PPE – such as masks, gowns, safety glasses and sanitising handwash – for medics and care workers.
These brave, selfless people are putting their own lives at risk by caring for those of us suffering from Covid-19. In many cases these nurses, doctors, porters, other hospital staff and care workers in care homes and in the homes of individuals are the family of NPC members. All of them are concerned at the possibility of spreading the virus.

As Britain’s biggest campaigning organisation for older people – those most of risk from Covid-19 – the NPC is calling on individual MP’s, not to simply leave the issue to Government, but instead to urgently step up to the mark to ensure health and care workers in their own constituencies receive PPE, and crucially Covid-19 testing as a matter of urgency.
NPC General Secretary Jan Shortt said: “We hear daily announcements from the Government about PPE and testing being made available to medical staff and care workers, but from what we see and hear, there is little evidence of this vital equipment reaching those we all rely upon to keep us – and themselves – safe.

“It is fantastic that so many ordinary people are volunteering to help their communities in this time of crisis. Now that Parliament is closed, it is time for MP’s to step up and fight for a better service for the vulnerable for the frontline staff in hospitals, clinics, care homes and care at home services in their own constituencies.”
“Our members are seriously concerned for the welfare of doctors, nurses and care staff in the light of lack of basic equipment. We have already had cases of medical professionals dying from the disease.
“That these caring staff should still be expected to work without the protection of gloves, aprons, masks and other equipment in time of crisis is appalling. It is also extremely short- sighted, when those who are not protected may inadvertently be spreading the virus even further.”

The NPC believes Government decisions over the last decade have created the crisis in the NHS and social care.
We are shocked at the revelations in The Guardian (27th March) that former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt ‘advised’ a high-level Government working party in 2016 to reconsider their recommendation (which they did) to stockpile safety glasses for health workers in anticipation of any future pandemic because of cost.
This is yet another example of the Government’s failure to fully fund the NHS and social care, which has left both services now completely unprepared for the level of need created by COVID-19.
Actions speak louder than words – the Government should be ashamed of not delivering on promises regarding PPE and testing. If ever there was proof of the need for public services like the NHS, local government and publicly funded care, this is it.
  “Employers of care staff who work in care homes or visit the most vulnerable patients in their own home must be provided with the same level of equipment and resources for their staff. Not to do so is wholly unacceptable.”