Leading care home operator Barchester Healthcare has called for designated care home visitors to prioritised for coronavirus vaccinations.
The call follows the Government’s announcement this month that every care home resident will be allowed a regular visitor as part of lockdown easing plans.
A Barchester spokesperson said: “We are looking forward to having visitors back in our homes in an appropriately safe manner. As such we think it is important to take a cautious and phased approach, ensuring the one designated visitor per resident or patient is supported in complying with the protocols including the use of PPE and being tested using a Lateral Flow Device test before entering a home, and our desire is that they are also vaccinated, if possible.
“In order to support this, we are lobbying with the Government for designated visitors to be prioritised for a vaccination. We are engaging with relatives and residents and taking a phased and cautious approach.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson told us: “We understand this is an enormously challenging period for many people and the NHS is working hard to vaccinate those most at risk, as quickly as possible.
“We are following the recommendations of the independent experts at the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on which groups to prioritise for COVID-19 vaccines, and this advice was informed by extensive data on mortality and other factors.
“The Committee advised the immediate priority should be to prevent deaths and protect health and care staff, with old age deemed the biggest factor determining mortality.”
Barchester has previously announced it will not hire staff unless they have been COVID vaccinated and has set a deadline of 23 April for staff to take up vaccinations, while adding it was prepared to accept a delay in some instances and setting out a number of “acceptable exemptions”.