We are starting to see the benefits of the vaccinations on care home visiting regimes. While coronavirus cases remain high, the number of infections is falling. The UK’s vaccination programme has seen every care home resident offered a jab, with almost 17 million vaccinations carried out in total. The good news is that, as a result the DHSC has recently published that from 8 March care home residents will be allowed one regular indoor visitor with whom they will be allowed to hold hands.
These new measures are supposed to represent a balance, between the risk of infections and the importance of visiting for the physical and mental wellbeing of residents and their families.
All care home providers not experiencing an outbreak will be asked to follow the updated guidance which is due to be published before 8 March, and continue to work together with families and local professionals to ensure visits are possible while continuing to limit the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
- A single visitor will be allowed to hold hands indoors with their relative or contact in a care home, and make repeat visits.
- All visitors will receive a lateral flow test
- All visitors will be required to wear PPE and follow all infection prevention and control measures.
- Outdoor, pod and screen visits will be able to continue meaning there will be chances for residents to see more than just one nominated visitor.
- Close-contact care will be restricted to visitors who provide assistance – such as help dressing, eating or washing – which is essential to the immediate health and wellbeing of a resident. Existing guidance already enables these visits under exceptional circumstances.
Minister for Care Helen Whately said:
“We had to restrict the majority of visiting when the new variant was discovered but we have done all we can to enable visits to continue in some form. That includes providing funding towards costs of screens and PPE.”
“As we begin to open up we will move step by step to increase visits while remembering we are still in the grip of a global pandemic.”
Points to note
- The person nominated will remain unchanged while this measure is in place.
- There will be discretion for care homes to allow more than one named visitor in exceptional circumstances.
- Hand-holding is allowed but named visitors will be asked to avoid any closer contact.
- Vaccination is not mandatory and will not be a condition of visiting.
- Visiting will be suspended during local outbreaks in individual homes