Article 5 – Right to Liberty
Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be deprived of his liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law;
The above allows for ‘lawful detention for the prevention of spreading infectious diseases’ – the clinical guidance from the SG to keep residents in their rooms and limit access to enjoy communal living was initially reasonable and proportionate to prevent loss of life, but as the lockdown progressed the psychological damage resulting from days of isolation caused many to wonder whether quality of life was being compromised for quantity.
There are many care home residents whose lives included the world beyond the doors of the home, whether that was trips home to see family, social outings with other residents, or something as simple, but important, as a walk into town to the local shop to pick up a newspaper. The continued lockdown and the prevention of such rhythms of life is increasingly being viewed as intolerable and disproportionate.
Time changes the meaning of isolation for someone who is old and vulnerable and who may not have much time left. It turns it into profound suffering. Acute distress can manifest itself dramatically with angst and upset, but it can equally take the form of withdrawal and lack of engagement. Families have shared examples with Scottish Care in which they have noticed the difference in their loved ones’ wellbeing on video calls – that capacity, once lost, is unlikely to return. Further, people with dementia who benefitted from communal dining as a prompt to eat and drink have been denied that – this has led to poorer levels of nutrition, hydration and related issues such as increased falls.