New Government guidance says care homes will be further encouraged and supported to provide safe visiting opportunities as new national restrictions came into effect last Thursday (November 5) for four weeks.
It has been an particularly difficult year for those in care homes and for their families and it is hoped the new Government guidance will offer a way to ensure people can stay in touch while also remaining safe and protected.
Work is now underway to implement this new advice safely, so that care home residents will be allowed to receive visits from their family and friends in a COVID-secure way– with social distancing and PPE. Whether to enable visiting in person is a difficult decision, due to the current high levels of infection, and this may still not be the right thing for everyone who lives in a care home or in every individual situation.
It is likely to take care homes some time, in partnership with Public Health, Infection Prevention Control teams, the Council and, where necessary, Social Work colleagues, to implement this new approach safely. We ask people to be as patient as they can.
Under the new advice, visits should prioritise residents' and staff safety to limit the transmission of COVID-19. This can include opportunities for families to meet using visiting arrangements such as floor to ceiling screens, visiting pods, and window visits.
Clear principles are set out in the guidance as to how visits are conducted – with arrangements to be adapted from care home to care home, based on the needs of their residents and taking into consideration factors such as the layout and facilities within the home. It is important to ensure that social distancing and proper PPE use are observed at all times.
Exceptions will continue, such as for family visiting people who are reaching the end of their life, and every effort will be made to ensure visiting in person can take place with the adequate precautions in place.
This work is expected to take some weeks to put into place but the aim is that this guidance will enable care home providers, families and local professionals to work together to find the right balance between the benefits of visiting on wellbeing and quality of life, and protection from transmission of COVID-19 to social care staff and vulnerable residents.