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Discounting older disabled people in care homes during the COVID-19 pandemic: The English government’s breaches of care, equality and human rights laws

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Title of host publicationLaw and Society Association
DateSubmitted - 26 May 2021
DatePublished (current) - 26 May 2021
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This article considers government responses to older people living in English long-term care and nursing homes during the COVID-19 lockdown in Spring/Summer of 2020. Care homes are total institutions, closed spaces from which residents rarely leave, and are occupied by some of the least powerful and most vulnerable people in our society. As such they always require attention, especially during national emergencies. However, during the initial COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020 many concerning acts of commission/omission occurred in relation to care homes. Specifically, there were: belated and inadequate social policies; excessive and unreported deaths; insufficient health protections (delayed lockdowns; insufficient protective equipment and testing; untested hospital transfers); family and friend exclusions; inadequate end-of-life planning (poor treatment and care; exclusion of loved ones a faith representatives; unlawful use of ‘Do Not Attempt Resuscitation (DNAR)’ Orders; potentially unlawful constraints upon freedom of movement; and insufficient regulatory scrutiny. This article considers each of these concerns in relation to care, equality and human rights legislation, arguing that the English government behaved unlawfully, reflecting wider systemic cultural devaluation of older and disabled lives.

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