Care home visits can resume – in some places
Updated: Jul 23
Families and friends can start to be reunited with their loved ones in care homes in England, the government has said, as it publishes new guidance.
It is unclear as yet , though, how this would enable chaplaincy and other pastoral visits.
Visits will only resume in specific care homes once local authorities and local public health directors say it is safe. The guidance stipulates that visits should be limited to one consistent person per resident, where possible.
The Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: 'I know how painful it has been for those in care homes not being able to receive visits from their loved ones throughout this period.
'We are now able to carefully and safely allow visits to care homes, which will be based on local knowledge and circumstances for each care home. It is really important that we don't undo all of the hard work of care homes over the last few months while ensuring families and friends can be safely reunited, so we have put in place guidance that protects everyone.'
Care providers should consider whether visits could take place outside, without people having to go through a shared building, and visitors should stick to social distancing guidance while avoiding hugs or handshakes.
Ad hoc visits should be discouraged and providers should collect contact details of visitors to support NHS Test and Trace, the guidance says. Visitors should also be encouraged to wear a face covering and to wash their hands thoroughly before putting it on and after taking it off.
Any gifts for residents should be easy to clean by care home staff. 'It is unlikely that they will be able to bring flowers, but a box of chocolates that could be sanitised with wipes would be allowed,' the guidance says.
Some care homes in England have already been allowing socially distanced visits in gardens and grounds (see the Service in a Garden blog posts one and two) since June, as they awaited more specific government guidance.