An MP is leading calls to make it the law for care homes to allow visits from “essential care givers”.
Guidelines introduced in July permit care home residents to have visits even during coronavirus outbreaks.
According to the Merseyside-based Rights for Residents group, not all homes were following the advice, and during outbreaks, some residents “died alone.”
Dan Carden, Labour MP for Liverpool Walton, said the “vital” visits should be “enshrined in law.”
He has proposed amendments to the upcoming Health and Care Bill to ensure that families can visit loved ones in nursing homes.
“I’ve heard from families whose relatives have said they’d rather die than live in isolation,” Mr Carden said.
“The emotional impact of being separated from a loved one in the final stages of their life is absolutely heartbreaking.”
Diane Mayhew, co-founder of Rights for Residents, told BBC North West Tonight she was “absolutely delighted” when the government updated the guidelines.
However, she claimed that many caregivers “refused” to follow it, and that some people were “completely cut out” of their loved one’s care.
Ms Mayhew stated that some care homes were closing during Covid-19 outbreaks, so “there are still people dying alone,” and that the guidance would continue despite the fact that it is only advisory and not mandatory.
She stated that she was a vital caregiver for her partner’s mother prior to her death in August, and that it “really helped” the caregivers.
Ms Mayhew and her partner, Jenny Morrison, said they would help feed and entertain her mother, as well as do her nails and “all the things that carers simply don’t have time to do.”
“That’s why the essential visitor was created in the first place, to help people with their mental health and wellbeing, but unfortunately, that hasn’t happened across the board,” she explained.
“It’s not just the residents who are suffering,” she said, adding that it could be “soul-destroying” for relatives and loved ones.
According to a spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care, the department is “doing everything we can to support care providers in facilitating safe visits.”
He stated that this includes “ensuring that all residents can nominate an essential care giver, removing visitor limits, and shortening the period of time visit restrictions apply following an outbreak.”
“Our message is clear: all care home residents should be assisted in receiving the care and companionship they require from visitors, as this is critical to their health and wellbeing,” he said.