The Scottish Government has opened a consultation on the strengthening of Health and Social Care Standards, which is accepting responses until 15 October 2021. The consultation comes in response to the campaign for 'Anne's Law' spearheaded by Care Home Relatives Scotland. The group was set up in response to restrictions on visits to loved ones in care homes during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The proposed legislation aims to provide nominated contacts of care home residents with a right of access to visit loved ones. A second consultation on implementation of said legislation will be published shortly. The current consultation seeks to reform Health and Social Care Standards (in advance of legislation) to ensure that people can spend time with their loved ones and allow regulators to refocus inspection practices in support of the wishes of care home residents and their nominated family or friends.

Existing Standards seek to allow residents to be supported to participate as a citizen of their local community, to manage relationships with family and friends in a way that suits their wellbeing, to make and keep friendships with people their own age, and to maintain and develop their interests. Current Standards also allow a resident to choose to see visitors in private and plan for a friend, family member, or partner to stay over. The potential options for new Standards(s) include:

  • If I am an adult living in a care home, I can nominate a named visitor (and substitutes) who I am able to see and spend time with to support my health and wellbeing which meets my needs and preferences.
  • If I am an adult living in a care home, I can nominate a named visitor (and substitutes) who I am able to see and spend time with at any time to support my health and wellbeing which meets my needs and preferences.
  • If I am an adult living in a care home and visiting restrictions are needed to prevent infection, my named visitor (and substitutes) are supported by the service to continue to see and spend time with me, as long as it is safe.
  • If I am an adult living in a care home and visiting restrictions are needed to prevent infection, my named visitor (and substitutes) are supported by the service to be fully involved in supporting my health and wellbeing at any time.

Submissions to the consultation are asked to address eight questions, which range from asking whether the right to visitation should be strengthened to ranking the above options for new Standard(s) in order of preference. Responses are also sought on alternative suggestions and applications of the new Standard(s), such as to those who live in supported accommodation rather than adult care homes.

The consultation notes that there are a range of practical considerations which must be borne in mind, such as the need to protect residents, staff and the wider public from the risk of serious infection while balancing this against equality and human rights implications.

Written responses can be made using the Scottish Government's consultation hub, Citizen Space, by email to [email protected] or by post to Anne’s Law Consultation Scottish Government Room 3 East Rear St Andrew’s House Regent Road Edinburgh EH1 3DG.

Contributors

Jack Barratt

Trainee Solicitor