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Health blog: Visiting care homes, safely

A message from Julie Webster, Wirral’s Director of Public Health

Dear Residents,

In recent weeks I have been responding to many queries about visiting care homes during the Coronavirus pandemic and the Government has now released national guidance regarding these arrangements.

I know how important it is for families and friends to be able to visit their loved ones. But it is also  vital to remember that the virus is still circulating – as we’ve seen with recent spikes of cases across Merseyside and further afield.

So, while I know that many residents are keen to ‘get back to normal’ and visit your relatives – it is not that simple. It is about trying to balance the benefits to our care home residents of receiving visitors, against the risk of introducing infection into the care home or spreading infection from the care home to the community.

As Director of Public Health for Wirral, I am currently of the view that visits be allowed in care homes locally - as long as this is undertaken in line with the national guidance.

However, I must stress that the local situation could change very quickly and should there be an increase in cases in Wirral then my advice regarding visiting may change.

We have asked all care home managers to use the new guidance to make any relevant adjustments to their visiting policy and to ensure that this is in place prior to your visit. 

Residents who are planning to visit a care home are advised to:

  • Wear a cloth face covering or mask during your visit.
  • Where possible, visit outdoors to reduce risk of spreading the virus.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use a hand sanitiser when you arrive at and leave the care home.
  • Do not visit if you or anyone in your home or support bubble has symptoms of Coronavirus or if you’ve been asked to self-isolate by NHS Test & Trace.

Each care home may have a slightly different policy so, call ahead to ensure you’re up to speed.

I know restrictions have been in place for a long time and visiting loved ones has been limited for many families and friends. But please remember that the aim of these restrictions has always been to protect our most vulnerable. I am hugely grateful to everyone working in care homes for all they have done to protect residents and staff and help save lives during these challenging times.

I want to thank those who have been in touch to ask after our policies and procedures as we continue translate the Government’s guidance to work for our local system and residents. Thank you for doing your bit to help Keep Wirral Well and as ever, for reading my updates.

Stay safe.

Julie.