Care home residents are set to be allowed to see relatives and friends again within days, the government has revealed.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock (pictured) told ITV News that “COVID-secure visiting” would resume shortly in England.
Mr Hancock said: “In the next few days we will be setting out how COVID-secure visiting can happen in care homes, how we can have more visits of loved ones in a way that is very careful and in a way that keeps care homes safe.
“There will be more details soon, but I think people are yearning to see their loved ones and the residents of care homes get so much from visitors. It’s been a very, very long period and that period when there hasn’t been any visiting allowed to care homes, that’s coming to an end very soon.
“I very much hope that in the next few days we will be able to make this change. We have been understandably very careful about it and we’ve got to get it right.”
Non-essential care home visits have been banned in the UK since the beginning of lockdown in March.
Leading dementia charities Alzheimer’s Society and Dementia UK wrote to Mr Hancock this week warning of a “hidden catastrophe” taking place in care homes as a result of the visitor ban.
The charities said the ban had had particularly damaging consequences on the mental and physical health of those living with dementia, who make 70% of the care home population.
A DHSC spokesperson said: “Throughout this pandemic it has been our priority to protect care home staff and residents.
“We understand the challenge that limitations to visits has placed on staff, residents and their loved ones and that is why we will be setting out further details shortly on how we can carefully and safely allow visiting in care homes.”