As of 31 January 2022, restrictions on the number of visitors in care homes were removed and the length of isolation periods in the event of a Covid-19 outbreak were also reduced. This has been commended as “a huge step forward” across the board in the adult social care sector.
As the rules stand, the most recent changes to the visiting and isolation policies are:
- No limits on the number of visitors,
- Essential caregivers are permitted to visit even during Covid-19 outbreaks
- Residents no longer need to test or self-isolate after visits outside the home
- The isolation period has been reduced from 14 to 10 days
The rules lifting is primarily due to the success of the vaccines, according to Health Secretary Sajid Javid. According to care minister Gillian Keegan, “Thanks to the continued success of the vaccine rollout, I am delighted we can ease restrictions in care settings… The changes announced today are backed by scientists, ensuring we all have more freedoms from coronavirus, including care home residents and their families.” This is also at a time when vaccination in care homes is at a high, with 86.5 percent of residents having had their booster jab.
However, chairman of the National Care Association, Nadra Ahmed, says that situation will be “considered carefully.” This comes in light of how quickly Omicron spreads and many care homes currently experiencing coivd-19 outbreaks, which will impact how many visitors will be permitted in any home. Further, with staffing shortages, care homes are going to experience difficulty coping with the amount of visits likely to be requested by family members and loved ones. Providers will retain the ability to increase restrictions as they see necessary in order to protect their residents. It seems that the consensus is to put the mental and emotional well-being of residents at the forefront of consideration for heighted restrictions and that as many visits will be allowed as possible. Despite all this, it is still progress for the adult social care industry and one step closer to some sense of normality for the residents.