Ombudsman Takes a Stand on the Operation of the Heves County “Harmónia” United Social Care Institution

At the Heves County “Harmónia” United Social Care Institution, the measures and restrictions imposed by the Chief Medical Officer for the prevention of the coronavirus pandemic were implemented, and appropriate measures were taken to reduce the possibility of infection, the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights concluded in his report. However, Dr. Ákos Kozma made a recommendation for the Head of the Institution about encouraging more frequent communication between the residents and their relatives through varied channels, even in the period of the ban on visits.

Within the framework of the OPCAT National Preventive Mechanism (NPM), the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights and his staff members paid a visit to the Heves County “Harmónia” United Social Care Institution (hereinafter: the “Institution”). In consideration of the state of danger declared by Government Decree 40/2020 (11 March), the Ombudsman announced his visit in advance. The purpose of the visit was to monitor the daily activities of the residents as well as their relationship with the world outside the Institution amidst the changed circumstances, in view of the restrictions ordered due to the COVID-19 situation.

In his report on Case No. AJB-2800/2020, Dr. Ákos Kozma concluded that the Institution had taken all the necessary precautions to reduce the possibility of infections.

The Commissioner for Fundamental Rights found that owing to the measures taken for the prevention of infections, the residents were not allowed to move freely within the Institution, i.e. in addition to being isolated from the outside world, they also had to experience restrictions regarding their way of life within the Institution. Since many of them do not have family, they did not have visitors even before the introduction of the ban on visits. The irregularity or the complete lack of contact, and then its absence affecting all residents due to the introduction of the ban on visits has been mentally challenging for each and every one of them.

Dr. Ákos Kozma made a recommendation for the Head of the Institution in which he encouraged more frequent communication between the residents and their relatives through varied channels, even during the period of the ban on visits.

For the report, please click on the following link: AJB-2800/2020.