A registered nurse from Ashton is fighting for the rights of care home residents who have not been allowed to see their loved ones since lockdown began in March.Advertisement
Whistleblower Carley Stewart, who until recently was working in a Preston care home, says residents are “losing the will to live” due to a lack of physical contact with friends and family caused by government guidelines.
As part of her stand, Carley attended a human rights protest in London on 29 August wearing her nurse uniform, and has since been sacked by her employer. After losing her job, Carley posted a video on Facebook, which has been viewed over 30,000 times.
Carley said: “I’m standing up for Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, which says everyone has the right to a family life without interference from the government.
“I was at the protest representing the residents of care homes who through government guidelines have had valuable access to their loved ones restricted.
“I am watching the human rights to family life being stripped away from the weak and vulnerable people in care homes.
“As I’m aware from my training as a nurse and in the Human Rights Act, the guidelines for Covid-19 are destroying the basis of care by withholding the best interest for the individual.
“Their best interest is their choice. It’s their loved ones, it’s their family – that’s what’s in their best interests.
“If you want to be healthy, you need love and you need to be happy. This is being taken away.”
Carley said she felt compelled to speak out after seeing the impact of the coronavirus lockdown on residents and their distressed families.
“Residents are expressing their wants and wishes to have regular physical contact with their families, but their wishes and wants are being dismissed.
“I’ve seen family turned away from the door crying. Why can’t they wear a mask? No. They’re not allowed, they’re just not allowed in, full stop.
“While we were all gallivanting out during August eating 50 per cent off food, these people still cannot see their mums, they cannot see their children. They’re just not allowed.”
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Residents are being told they don’t have the capacity to decide what’s best for them, and are not being given any information to help in the decision-making process, according to Carley.
“They are deemed not to have the mental capacity to make a decision based on their best interests. This is even though their incapacity may be physical only, and they have full mental capacity.
“Yet their best interests lie in supporting their voice and choice, gained through informed consent to make a decision based upon honesty and transparency, so opinions can be valued.
“I’m not seeing risk assessments taking place to weigh up the pros and cons of lockdown for these people.
“I haven’t seen anyone being given a choice to make for themselves.
“Residents are just being told ‘there’s a pandemic outside, it’s too unsafe for you, stay in here, it’s for your own good’. That’s it – they’re not given facts, data, nothing, just that.”
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Carley says care homes and the authorities are supporting the government stance by cooperating, but that she knows many others who feel the same way.
“By the government imposing these guidelines, I feel like I’m breaking the law. That’s because I am breaking the law. You’re taking away human rights and breaking the law by doing this.
“Medical staff, nurses and anyone in the healthcare system need to be careful. I don’t know how you’re carrying on with it, because I know you know. I know so many healthcare professionals who know.
“It’s time to stand forward. You’re not working in the best interests of your patients. Please do, it’s our duty of care.”
Guidance on the Lancashire County Council website from June when lockdown restrictions first started to ease said visits would only be allowed once a care home had been Covid-free for 14 days. At the time, individual risk assessments were needed and a two-metre distance had to be maintained. The guidance said it was “important to ensure that emotions do not overrun leading to any physical contact”.
This level of contact was reduced again when Preston’s local restrictions were tightened on 8 August, with updated guidance stating “care homes should not facilitate visits to residents from friends or family in care homes, other than in exceptional circumstances.”
Despite losing her job, Carley says she doesn’t regret her actions.
“I can’t live with this, I can’t do it. I can’t work in the environment, it’s too much. I refuse to work against these medical tyranny rules and laws, which are killing people.
“People don’t have the will to live. They’re stuck inside. I was there for them, and I don’t regret a single thing.”
Read more: Preston City Council to make home visits to help trace coronavirus contacts
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What do you think of Carley’s protest? If you’re in a care home, how has lockdown affected you? Let us know in the comments.