Solicitors Rook Irwin Sweeney have initiated a legal challenge regarding the lack of COVID-19 guidance for disabled people in supported living. 


In response to COVID-19, the government gave care homes guidelines for admitting and caring for people in their care, and this has been updated at least three times.  


But for disabled people in supported living, the situation has been woefully inadequate - the last guidance was withdrawn on 13 May 2020 and further guidance has been ‘under development’ ever since. Supported living provisions have had to deliver care and support without recent guidelines about how to manage the COVID-19 pandemic.  


The supported living provider struggles to balance the rights of the cared-for individual, with the ability to maintain that essential contact and a sense of normality with loved ones who are so important to their care and lives. 


We know that in the absence of clear guidance, uncertainty causes stress for those affected and their families. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has found that 62.4% of disabled people have been worried about the effect of the virus on their health – compared with 49.6% of non-disabled people. Isolation has led to an increased feeling of loneliness for 48.7% in May 2020, compared with 30.3% a month earlier. 


Solicitors Rook Irwin Sweeney called upon the government to address these issues at the end of June. They claim that the Secretary of State is behaving irrationally, discriminatory, and there is a direct breach of their clients’ human rights. As of 20 July 2020, they are still waiting for a complete reply. 


This lack of guidance has the effect of differentiating treatment between those in care homes (where guidance is available) with those who are living within a supported living provision. We are concerned that there is a breach and lack of compliance with Article 8 of European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) convention because there is no readily available guidance, which leaves people in supported living without adequate safeguards.  


To prevent a legal challenge, Rook Irwin Sweeney has asked the Secretary of State to issue COVID-19 guidance for disabled people in supported living as a matter of urgency.  


We will let you know when new guidance is released or if the legal challenge continues. Advocacy Focus believes that everyone needs clear guidelines to help them to live their lives during these uncertain times. 


Read the letter sent to the Secretary of State here 

Please note that guidance has now been published for supported living. Click here for the new guidance