Depriving care home residents of their liberty was ‘big scandal’ of last two years- Four Seasons chief

Some care home residents “gave up and died” because they were unable to see loved ones during the pandemic, the outgoing chief executive of one of the UK’s biggest care groups has said.

Jeremy Richardson, who will leave his role at Four Seasons Health Care in the coming weeks, said the “big scandal” of the past two years has been depriving residents of their liberty.

He said he hopes that denying care home residents access to their loved ones is the one lesson from the crisis that society will “never repeat”.

He told delegates at LaingBuisson’s Innovation in Care conference in Birmingham: “Ultimately, life in a care home should be a life well led, and that involves interactions not just with staff, or team members, but with loved ones and friends.

“And I think the big scandal of the last two years is that we chose to deprive people of their liberty because we defined essential carers as people who work in care homes, not people who are the loved ones of people who live in those care homes.

“And I know for a fact that there were a number of people in our homes who gave up and died because they didn’t have social interaction. They gave up the will to live.

“So I think the future of care homes is about interaction, society, engaging with community, and if technology can help me deliver better outcomes to make sure that those things happen, then I will embrace the technology, but ultimately, it’s about community and I don’t think we should ever forget that.”

Helen Wildore, director of the Relatives and Residents Association, said too many lives have been cut short by restrictions in place to manage Covid.

She said: “This message will be incredibly difficult to hear for families of those who passed away in a Four Seasons home, who might ask why more wasn’t done to safeguard their legal rights.

“It will also be incredibly difficult for people living in care, still battling to get meaningful contact with their families, still living under restrictions while the rest of the country gets back to normal.”

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