It is important to remember that it is not just the elderly who reside in care homes, but also those with difficulties communicating. Despite the elderly in care home settings being entitled to testing for Coronavirus, people with learning disabilities in the same settings are not. Supported accommodation has also been affected by coronavirus, and many families are worried of the lack of testing of patients within those settings. Families have also had to deal with difficulties of being unable to visit to reassure or say goodbye to their loved ones when their health has sadly declined.

Disability Campaigner Sara Ryan has spoken to the BBC and has raised that families feel “disregarded and dismissed”, and that “people being treated as disposable bodies”. Learning disability sites that have tested staff are also finding that it will take days for results to be provided, despite vulnerable people living there. There are increasing calls for testing to be extended into other vulnerable groups.

The Health Minister has now advised that he is looking into the testing of those with learning disabilities in care home settings.

Dr Dominic Slowie, former NHS national clinical director for learning disability, confirmed, “Data now suggests that there have been more deaths [of vulnerable people] than are acceptable”. In England last month, there have been 175% more deaths in places supporting people with learning disabilities, than reported in the same period last year (according to the Care Quality Commission).

Dr Slowie also raised that those with additional vulnerabilities need to be prioritised. He made the point that at the start of the pandemic many families will have been receiving care packages appropriate for their needs. That routine care in many cases has been reduced to create capacity in hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic, he has stressed that those vulnerable in care also still need to be protected.

We know from experience that many people with disabilities feel socially isolated; unfortunately the rules imposed to deal with the coronavirus are not making those challenges any easier. Many people are also in particular struggling with their change of routine. Lack of support or adequate care packages can make those difficulties even more pronounced. If you have concerns that a loved one’s health has deteriorated because of inadequate health care then we may be able to assist you.

Although we are, for the time being, not able to meet clients in person, our specialist clinical negligence team at Freeths is here to support and advise clients. We are available for meetings and consultations via telephone, email, FaceTime, WhatsApp, Skype and any other digital platform that works for you.

Please contact our team:

Karen Reynolds, Partner: 0845 272 5677 or karen.reynolds@freeths.co.uk

Claire Cooper, Solicitor: 0845 274 6830 or claire.cooper@freeths.co.uk

Naomi Solomon, Solicitor: 0845 030 5742 or naomi.solomon@freeths.co.uk

Siobhan Genever, Director: 0845 030 5774 or Siobhan.Genever@Freeths.co.uk