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Coronavirus: Care Home Visits To Resume In England

July 22, 2020

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.

Visits will resume in specific care homes once local authorities and local public health directors say it is safe.

However, the guidance says visits should be limited to one consistent person per resident, where possible.

Until now, visits were limited and dependent on local infection rates and the individual care home.

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.”

The government said visits could resume after the rate of community transmission of coronavirus had fallen, but staff, residents and visitors should observe its guidance to minimise the risk of spreading the virus.

It says 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.

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 been allowing socially-distanced visits in outdoor areas since June, in the absence of government guidance.

Care England, the country’s largest representative body for independent providers of adult social care, said it was “disappointed” the guidance had come so late.

Chief executive Professor Martin Green said: “This guidance should have been with care providers last month.

“We are at a loss to understand why the Department of Health and Social Care cannot act quickly in a crisis or why it is deaf to the comments and input from the sector.”

Risk assessments will happen before homes reopen, the government said.

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