CARE HOME VISITS: Care leaders give ‘guarded welcome’ to government announcement


Leaders have given a guarded welcome to news of the reopening of care homes to visiting from 8 March.

While welcoming the announcement that every resident will be allowed one visitor, leaders have called for more detailed guidance with some urging the government to go further in ending restrictions.

Helen Wildbore, Director of the Relatives & Residents Association (R&RA), said the proposals fell “far too short” of ending the distress of isolation for the most vulnerable residents.

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The director said the restriction of close contact visits to those who provide assistance, such as help dressing, eating or washing, “fundamentally misunderstands” the role relatives and friends play as essential caregivers in protecting resident’s wellbeing.

Jonathan Cunningham MBE, registered manager of Birkdale Park Nursing Home, said that while the government’s announcement was “welcome news” the measures did not go far enough and should include at least two relatives, with “hugging as well as hand holding” permitted.

“This is a cautious start but we must see this opening up rapidly and safely,” Jonathan said.

Mike Padgham, chair of the Independent Care Group (ICG), called for clarification on the government’s allowance of hand holding while warning against close contact.

The ICG head said a “more phased return to visiting” may have been preferable with a period of no contact visits followed by “some careful contact”.

The National Care Forum broadly welcomed the cautious easing of visiting while Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said it made sense for the first step to “allow ‘essential care giving visitors’ back into care homes because these individuals are so crucial to the health and wellbeing of the residents they support”.


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Lee Peart

The author Lee Peart

1 Comment

  1. So, a committee of MPs have suggested a law to end blanket bans on visits to care homes Care Home Professional Article. I have every sympathy with residents of care homes and their families for whom the pandemic has brought an end to the contact that all of us so desperately need for our mental health.

    The MPs suggest that decisions should be based on individual risk assessments and in a sector that, rightly, places so much emphasis on personalisation of services, who could argue with that.

    Nonetheless, the seeming simplicity of such a decision soon disappears when the complex range of factors to be considered is thought through.

    In the first place, there is the need to balance the risk to health and even life with impact on mental health.

    Then, the MPs reference the Human Rights Act and the right to family life enshrined in that legislation.

    For those who lack the capacity to make the decision about seeing family for themselves, there is the need for a best interest decision in the context of the Mental Capacity Act.

    The Health and Social Care Act, through the Care Quality Commission, places a duty on providers to deliver safe care.

    Contrast the complexity of the assessment and decision-making process required with the seeming simplicity of the demand for families to see their loved ones and it is difficult to reconcile this with the Government’s ruling that those who work in social care are in a low skilled occupation.

    The recognition of the vital interface between health and social care is very welcome but isn’t it time that we recognised that the decisions being made in social care settings can be every bit as complex as some of those made in health care. If we recognise that, we must then value, equally, those who make such decisions in their everyday provision of care.

    Empiric Partners provides advice and support to providers of health and social care.

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