The Department of Health & Social Care has announced that Care home residents are set to be be reunited with friends and family as visits begin again following the publication of new guidance on 22 July.
The isolating effects of lockdown have been difficult for residents and families, but the rate of community transmission has fallen and care homes can now arrange visits based on new guidance to limit further outbreaks, and protect staff and residents.
These arrangements will be based on the advice set out in new guidance to limit any further outbreaks and protect staff and residents.
Local directors of public health will lead assessments on visiting within their local authority. They will be expected to take a measured, risk-assessed approach, considering the situation in specific care homes as well as the community context, including any local outbreaks.
Care home providers should encourage all visitors to wear a face covering and to wash their hands thoroughly before and after putting it on and taking it off.
PPE may also be required, depending on the need of their visit, including gloves and aprons. Providers should also consider whether visits could take place in a communal garden or outdoor area, which can be accessed without anyone going through a shared building.
It is expected all care homes will still only relax visiting arrangements for specific individual needs and continue to take the health protection of the whole care home as their main objective, but those wishing to visit should speak to the care homes before a planned visit.
Care homes should support NHS Test and Trace by keeping a temporary record, including address and phone number, of current and previous residents, staff and visitors as well as keeping track of visitor numbers and staff. It is recommended they have an arrangement to enable bookings or appointments for visitors – ad hoc visits should not be permitted.
Lisa Lenton, Chair, Care Providers Alliance said:
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll in many ways. The effect of not being able to see friends and family has been very difficult and very upsetting for many – both for the people who access care and support, and for their loved ones who have been isolated.
The Care Provider Alliance welcomes this overdue guidance – the CPA has been calling for government guidance for many weeks and released its own visitors protocol last month in its absence. People need people and this is such an important step for the wellbeing of individuals and their relatives.