At last! Care home residents can finally be reuinited with loved ones

At last! Care home residents can finally be reuinited with loved ones

After months of being deprieved of seeing their loved ones, residents in care homes can now finally be reunitied with their loved ones. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has today given care homes the green light to start arranging visits, as long as social distancing and protective equipment rules are followed. Each resident will only be allowed a single nominated visitor, who can visit regularly as long as they book in advance and wear a mask and extra PPE if required. They will be asked to give up their contact information so they can be tracked down by NHS Test and Trace if someone tests positive in the home.

He 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.’
'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 England, the largest representative body for independent providers of adult social care, said it was ‘disappointed’ the government guidance had come so late. 

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Care home visits have been allowed for weeks in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, this moves finally brings England in line with them. Some providers in England began allowing outdoor, socially-distanced visits in June, in the absence of government guidelines.

Local councils and public health officials in England will decide on a case-by-case basis which homes will be able to reopen, depending on levels of coronavirus in the area. Charities and care providers said the move has been 'long overdue' and the lack of contact with families may have already caused irreparable harm to the mental and physical health of frail residents.

Providers will decide whether visits should take place in a communal garden or outdoor area, where the fresh air and heat make it hard for the virus to spread. It is expected care homes will tentatively start relaxing visiting rules, with family members of residents nearing the end of their life taking priority.

Lisa Lenton, chair of Care Providers Alliance, said the measures had been 'long overdue' in England.

She added: 'The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has taken its toll in many ways. The effect of not being able to see friends and family has been very difficult and very upsetting for many - both for the people who access care and support, and for their loved ones who have been isolated.

The social care sector has been devastated by coronavirus, after the infection swept through homes and killed almost 20,000 elderly residents in England and Wales.

Many care homes across the country stopped visits from friends and family a week or more before the lockdown came into place in an effort to stem the spread of coronavirus. The elderly are most vulnerable to severe Covid-19 infection and death, and so the signs of potential devastation were clear from an early stage.