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Care home residents allowed overnight stays as visiting restrictions eased

Helen Whately

Care home residents will be able to stay overnight with family and friends as part of a new easing of visiting restrictions announced by the government.

A raft of easing restrictions were announced by the government as it also revealed that the lifting of all restrictions will be delayed to 19 July.

The new measures include the nomination of an ‘Essential Care Giver’ for every resident to provide additional support during visits and, from 21 June, new admissions to care homes will no longer have to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival.

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Care home residents will still need to isolate for 14 days following a visit out that would be deemed high risk through a risk assessment or after an overnight stay at hospital.

If a person is admitted from a hospital or another care home they must also self-isolate.

New admissions to care homes will undergo an enhanced testing regime, including a PCR test before arrival, on the day of admission and additionally seven days later.

Minister for Care, Helen Whately, (pictured) said: “I have heard first-hand from those living and working in care homes how difficult the restrictions around visiting have been and I’m incredibly grateful to everyone working in the sector who has helped reunite families safely.

“Thanks to the continued success of the vaccine rollout, I am pleased we can now take another step towards normality, helping more people enjoy visits out of the care home while protecting them from the continued risk of COVID-19.”

CEO, Professor Martin Green OBE, said Care England had worked hard to secure the changes announced by the government.

Martin added: “It is vital to ensure that the national roadmap helps to advantage all those in receipt of care, including younger working aged adults, to enjoy their rights to purposeful lives as active members of families and communities. We will continue to engage with the DHSC on all issues relating to the roadmap in order to empower providers to work within the best interests of those whom they support.

While welcoming the announcement, Vic Rayner, CEO of the National Care Forum, urged the government to take immediate action to support the changes.

“It must not be forgotten that on 30 June all additional funding allocated to cover costs associated with Infection Prevention and Control, the management and support of visiting and enhanced testing comes to an end,” Vic highlighted.

“Care providers desperately need future funding confirmed to ensure they can continue to pay staff to isolate effectively, to increase their capacity to facilitate and administer enhanced testing for those admitted to care homes, or visiting out of care homes, and enhanced visiting capacity and testing for greater numbers of essential care givers.  Hundreds of thousands of residents and their relatives require this key issue to be addressed urgently. As ever the detail is required, and at present we are still waiting to see the full guidance underpinning these arrangements.”

Kathryn Smith, Chief Executive, Social Care Institute for Excellence, added: “We are pleased to see that care home residents no longer need to isolate on return from a visit out; in line with other people returning to their own homes. This is something that the sector has been calling for, for some time, recognising that there are many factors involved in reducing risks in care homes. These include vaccinations, PPE and regular testing. We look forward to the end to all restrictions on 19 July so that the sector can recover, reform and thrive.”

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The author Lee Peart

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