Care homes will be encouraged and supported to provide safe visiting opportunities as new national restrictions come into effect, under new advice released by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
According to the new rules, visits should be tailored to residents and facilities and should prioritise residents and staff’s safety to limit the transmission of COVID-19. Additionally, care homes, especially those who have not allowed visits since March, will be encouraged and supported to provide safe visiting opportunities as new national restrictions come into effect. The DHSC has also said measures put in place should provide COVID-secure opportunities for families to meet using visiting arrangements such as floor to ceiling screens, visiting pods, and window visits.
Read more: Testing programme publishes findings on antibody response over time
‘I know how heart-breaking and incredibly frustrating it has been for families and friends who haven’t been able to see their loved ones during the pandemic,’ said Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock.
‘Care homes should feel empowered by this new guidance to look at safe options to allow visits to care homes that suit their residents and facilities. We’ve seen some really innovative solutions used to help families see each other safely, face-to-face, which has been life-changing for some. It is vital high quality, compassionate care and infection control remains at the heart of every single care home to protect staff and resident’s lives, but we must allow families to reunite in the safest way possible.’
Read more: Liverpool to be regularly tested for coronavirus in first whole city testing pilot
According to the DHSC, protecting staff and residents has been a priority throughout the pandemic, with 120,000 tests being sent out every day solely for the care sector. The government has provided access to £3.7 billion for local authorities through un-ringfenced grants so they can address the expenditure pressures they are facing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including social care, as well as £1.1 billion provided to support infection control in care homes.
‘We are also working to trial testing for visitors, so that we can reduce the risk of indoor visits and give families more opportunities to spend time with relatives in care homes,’ said Helen Whately, Minister for Care.
‘We must get the balance right between reuniting families and ensuring care staff and residents are safe from COVID-19.’