Indoor care home visits from a nominated friend or family member resume today as part of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown.
Guidance for the resumption was published by the government last week. The guidelines allow every care home resident to nominate a single visitor for regular visits.
The visitors are required to be tested using rapid lateral flow tests before every visit and must wear appropriate PPE and follow all other infection control measures.
Residents and visitors are allowed to hold hands but keep other physical contact to a minimum.
Kathryn Smith, Chief Executive of the Social Care Institute for Excellence, said: “It’s going to be an emotional day for residents, relatives and staff as nominated visitors are allowed into care homes.
“For some, they haven’t seen their loved ones for a year. Of course it’s important that testing, PPE and vaccinations continue at pace. For today though, let’s just take a moment to celebrate that people are to be re-united – in a limited way – but in a way that provides hope for care homes for the near and long-term future.”
Independent Care Group Chair Mike Padgham said: “Today is a special day. Residents and relatives have been apart for too long and it has been very damaging for both sides not to have vital human contact.
“It is lovely to see them reunited and to know that more and more people are going to see their loved ones properly for the first time in weeks and months.”
Mike urged the need for caution and care when reintroducing visiting, however, adding the ICG has worked closely with North Yorkshire County Council in preparing for the visits and was following their guidance.
Dan Hayes, The Orders of St John Care Trust’s CEO, said: “The Orders of St John Care Trust was disappointed that the government guidance relating to new processes from 8 March was published on the afternoon of 4 March having been outlined nearly two weeks earlier on 20 February.
“We are determined to extend visiting in our care homes within the coming days to allow meaningful contact between our residents and their loved ones. However, this delay has left those in the care home sector in the difficult position of needing to manage the expectations of all those looking forward to a visit with their loved one, without being able to make the plans necessary to allow the visits to commence.
“We tried to anticipate what the guidance might state and prepare accordingly, and we are now working through the published guidance to ensure that our internal policies are in line opening up visits a few days later than the government guidance. The safety and wellbeing of our residents and their families along with our colleagues is our top priority. Therefore, we must have time to understand the guidance and adopt it safely.
“In the meantime, we continue to have bookable visits in services that are not considered to be in outbreak through the use of our visiting rooms which are fresh air ventilated and with floor to ceiling screens, and our outdoor spaces.”