Latest Government Guidance on Care Home Visits

Summary – 19 July 2021

This summary guidance applies to residential care homes.

As part of the roadmap out of lockdown – guided by data on the prevalence and transmission of COVID-19 – we want to enable care home residents to enjoy more visits to their care homes wherever it is safe to do so.

General visiting guidance – visitors to care homes

Every care home resident can have ‘named visitors’ who will be able to enter the care home for regular visits. There is no limit on the number of ‘named visitors’ that a single resident can have and no nationally-set limit on the number who can visit in a single day.

Every care home resident should be offered the opportunity to nominate an essential care giver. They should be allowed to visit during outbreaks or periods of isolation (but not if the essential care giver or resident is COVID-positive, unless this is for an end of life visit to a resident who is COVID-positive).

What you can do to help manage the risks

There are lots of ways you can help to reduce the risk of passing on the virus without knowing during a visit:

  • get the vaccine when it is offered to you. Vaccination is one of the best defences to combat infection. It significantly reduces the transmission of infection, particularly after 2 doses. It is strongly recommended that residents and visitors receive 2 doses of vaccine before conducting visits
  • take a rapid lateral flow test on the day of your visit
  • do not visit the care home if you are feeling unwell or have symptoms of coronavirus
  • wear a mask throughout your visit
  • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water when you arrive at the care home

Most importantly, remember to limit close contact, use whatever PPE the care home asks you to, and keep it on. Gloves should only be necessary when providing close personal care.

In the event of an outbreak in the care home

In the event of an outbreak, all movements in and out of the care home should be minimised as far as possible and limited to exceptional circumstances only, such as to visit a friend or a relative at the end of their life. These restrictions should continue until the outbreak is confirmed as over, which will be at least 14 days after the last laboratory confirmed or clinically suspected cases were identified in a resident or member of staff in the home.

If the care home makes a decision you disagree with

If the care home makes a decision you disagree with, it would be best to speak to the care home manager and ask to discuss the situation.

You could ask about the risk assessment the care home has developed to decide its visitor policy.

You could consider asking the care home to do an individual risk assessment for your loved one.

If this does not help, you could consider contacting a social worker at your local authority. They may be able to discuss the situation with you and the care home manager to find a solution.

Sometimes there will be good reasons (like an outbreak of COVID-19 in the care home) why the home cannot offer the visiting you would like. But our guidance clearly says that the care home should not put blanket restrictions in place.

Care homes not offering visits

The government’s guidance says that visiting should be allowed to happen wherever it can be done safely.

Care home managers and staff will know best how things should run in their care home. For example, there might have to be limits on how many visitors can come in, or how often, because of the amount of space or layout of the rooms.

Sometimes there will be good reasons (like an outbreak of COVID-19 in the care home) why the home cannot offer the visiting you would like.

If you think the care home is not following visiting guidance, raise the matter with the home. If you are not satisfied that the issue is resolved, you can contact the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The CQC is responsible for inspecting the safety and quality of care provided in care homes, and they will consider if they need to investigate.

Contact CQC National Customer Services Centre by:

Named visitors

Named visitors can come in for a regular indoor visit, sitting in the same room as loved ones, with no screen or other barrier in between.

Named visitors and residents are advised to limit close contact (excluding essential care givers). Physical contact like handholding is acceptable if hand washing protocols are followed. Close personal contact such as hugging presents higher risks but will be safer if it is between people who are double vaccinated, without face-to-face contact, and there is brief contact only.

Named visitors should be tested using rapid lateral flow tests on the day of every visit and produce a negative COVID-19 test prior to their visit.

We are asking visitors to be supportive of the care home and recognise that the home will need to ‘share out’ visiting appointments so everyone gets the chance to have one.

The care home will ask each resident who they would like their named visitors to be. If the resident lacks the capacity to decide who they want their named visitors to be, the care home will speak with their family and friends so they can decide what to do between them.

Essential care giver

All residents may benefit from a visit from a loved one who provides a greater degree of personal care or support, to maintain their immediate health and wellbeing.

The government is advising that every resident should be offered the opportunity to nominate an essential care giver. These visitors will be able to visit more often in order to provide essential care and companionship.

The essential care giver should be enabled to visit in all circumstances, including if the care home is in outbreak. Essential care givers will need to be supported to follow the same testing and infection control arrangements as care home staff. They should also use the same PPE as members of the care home staff (including gloves only when providing direct personal care) and should follow the appropriate guidance for using it.

If you think your loved one would benefit from this type of visit, you should speak to the care home.

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