A report has warned that the human rights of people in care are under threat due to slow progress on enabling visits and the inappropriate use of resuscitation notices.

Restrictions introduced during the Covid pandemic are still keeping loved ones from visiting residents of some care homes in England, the Joint Committee on Human Rights said.

This is despite current Government guidance saying “there should not normally be any restrictions to visits into or out of the care home”.

It also said it is concerned that Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (DNACPR) notices and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) are often not applied correctly, meaning someone’s treatment can be wrongfully withheld or their liberty infringed.

Redhill And Reigate Life: There has been slow progress in some places of enabling the return of visitors to those in care homes (PA)There has been slow progress in some places of enabling the return of visitors to those in care homes (PA)

MPs and peers said in the report that it was concerning that DNACPR notices were being issued based on someone’s age or condition, without much further discussion.

The committee also said restrictive practices, such as the use of chemical or physical restraints, should only be used where strictly necessary, and it has particular concerns around their use on people with dementia or learning disabilities.

There are also concerns that people are being deprived of their liberty, where they are placed under continuous supervision and not free to leave, without adequate or timely safeguards.

It recommended streamlining the complaints system to be managed by existing ombudsman bodies, as well as mental health complaints being removed from the responsibility of the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The committee also repeated its call for the Government to establish a legal right which would enable people in health and care settings to maintain contact with at least one loved one providing essential support.

It should legislate so care providers must inform the CQC of any changes to visiting, the report recommends, while the CQC should take a greater role in ensuring providers are not “needlessly blocking” relatives from seeing their loved ones.

Redhill And Reigate Life: The committee is looking for a legal right to enable those in care to keep in contact with at least one loved one (PA)The committee is looking for a legal right to enable those in care to keep in contact with at least one loved one (PA)

Committee chairwoman and SNP MP Joanna Cherry said there must be a “careful balance” between protecting human rights and preventing the risk of harm.

She said: “We are concerned that too often safeguards are not being applied correctly.

“Measures that should be tailored to individual needs, whether it concerns the right to a visit from a loved one or the question of whether someone should be resuscitated, are instead applied across a ward or age group.

“This is wrong and should not happen.”

Helen Wildbore, director of the Relatives & Residents Association, said: “The committee’s report is a damning indictment of the failure to protect people placed in the most vulnerable of situations.

“From the lack of action of the regulator to the lack of training for care staff, older people are being left at risk of having their fundamental rights breached.”