Care home leaders have welcomed the publication of new guidance to safely allow indoor visits by Christmas.
The government said care home residents in all tiers will be able to see their families this Christmas with the support over a million rapid tests and free PPE.
Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, (pictured) said: “I know how difficult it has been for people in care homes and their families to be apart for so long. The separation has been painful but has protected residents and staff from this deadly virus. I’m so pleased we are now able to help reunite families and more safely allow people to have meaningful contact with their loved ones by Christmas. This news has been made possible by the unprecedented strides made in testing technology and capacity, as well as extra PPE supplies.”
Visiting is being supported with an extra 46 million free items of PPE being distributed via the government’s portal and increased testing to enable two visits per resident twice a week.
Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive, Care England, said: “As the largest representative body for independent providers of adult social care, Care England is pleased that the Government has responded to the needs of the sector. In order for these promising plans to land successfully, the sector must now be adequately supported by the Government. Care England has always supported meaningful contact between families and residents, whilst recognising that the balance between freedom and safety needs to be explored at the most granular level possible.
“We appreciate the continued risks associated with visits, but this represents a positive step forwards. The most important relationships in most people’s lives are with their families or other people, where love and trust are shared.”
Vic Rayner, executive director of the National Care Forum (NCF), also welcomed the government’s commitment to visits but highlighted that meeting the pledges would require an extra 3.6 million hours of staff time with no additional resource provided.
The NCF head said the government had failed to address the work needed to facilitate new ‘visiting out’ guidance.