Residents are being allowed to leave their care homes for low risk visits without needing to self-isolate under new guidance introduced by the government.
The changes from today enable residents to visit a friend or family’s garden, take a walk with a care worker or named visitors or go on walks to places such as parks, public gardens and beaches without having to self-isolate on their return.
An exemption will also be in place for those who wish to vote in person in the upcoming local elections on 6 May as long as they follow national coronavirus restrictions and measures in place at polling stations.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We know how challenging this time has been for care home residents, so I am pleased that they can now leave their homes to reunite with their loved ones outdoors.
“With the data continuing to head in the right direction and as restrictions ease, it is my priority to keep increasing visits for residents in the coming weeks in a safe and controlled way.”
Minister for Care, Helen Whately, added: “I know residents and their families have found the restrictions on trips out of care homes incredibly difficult. This is one more step towards getting back to normal, while protecting care homes from the continued risk of COVID-19.
“As part of this interim update before the next stage of the roadmap, care home residents will also be able to leave to spend time outdoors. I know this has been long-awaited for those who haven’t had a chance to enjoy trips out. I look forward to encouraging more visiting and trips out in future as we turn the tide on this cruel virus.”
Independent Care Group chair, Mike Padgham, said the changes were “welcome news”, adding: “We know that the lack of social contact and visits has been detrimental to the health of residents and as others within the community start to enjoy freedom from the restraints of lockdown it is only right and fair that those in care and nursing homes do so too.”
Vic Rayner, CEO of the National Care Forum, said the move represented “light at the end of the tunnel” for care home residents while urging the government to set out a “clear roadmap” for what needs to happen for care home residents to fully engage with family and friends within their homes and in their communities.
Social Care Institute for Excellence Chief Executive Kathryn Smith said the announcement was a “sensible start” as the sector and society looked to move beyond COVID-19.
Kathryn added: “It is good to hear that at last care home residents can now visit some parts of their community away from the care home. Before the pandemic, choice and control was always recognised as key for all people who draw on care and support services, including in care homes; and this should still be what we aim to achieve. So these low-risk visits, where a follow-up quarantine is now not needed, are a welcome first step. It will be great to see care home residents voting on Thursday.”