Family and Friends letter: 3 February
Letter from Operations Director, Mike Stredder about changes to visiting restrictions.
Dear family member or friend,
Following last week’s Government announcement about relaxing visiting restrictions in care homes we are pleased to share with you how these changes apply in OSJCT homes. There is now no limit to the number of visitors each resident can receive, subject to the home not being in outbreak, and its team’s ability to manage visits safely. Infection control measures still apply in health and social care settings, such as face masks, to keep vulnerable people safe. You can read the full guidance at Gov.uk: Visiting arrangements in care homes - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).
Visiting residents in care homes
For homes not in outbreak, there is no longer any limit to the number of visitors, visits or length of visit that can take place in the home, subject to safety protocols implemented by the home. Visits should take place where most practical and comfortable for the resident, which can include their bedroom, visitor rooms, or communal areas. Only one visiting party is allowed in a communal area at one time. As cleaning and ventilation is recommended by Government guidance, visits in communal spaces or visiting rooms may have a time limit to ensure that visiting spaces are fairly allocated.
For homes with an outbreak (due to Covid-19 or another serious winter virus present in the home), internal visiting is restricted to Essential Care Givers, and special circumstances such as those visiting residents at end-of-life. Everyone else can meet with their loved one behind a screen in garden pods, via a designated visiting room which has an external door, or through a window.
All visits must be arranged in advance with the care home, and visitors must continue to show a recent negative LFD test (carried out before leaving home to travel to, or immediately prior to entering, the care home), wear a face mask and any extra PPE as instructed. Visitors must also carry out a temperature check and confirm they are fit and well when they arrive at the care home.
Visitors can hold hands with their loved ones without gloves but must wash their hands regularly. The guidance also asks the visitors maintain one-metre social distance between themselves and other residents and employees.
To protect vulnerable residents the guidance states that anyone who has been in close contact with someone who had Covid-19 at the time of meeting, should avoid visiting a care home for 10 days after that exposure. Anyone who falls ill should avoid visiting for at least five days after their symptoms have cleared up. Video and phone calls can be arranged during this time.
Residents visiting out of the care home
Most visits out of the care home can take place without the resident having to isolate or test for Covid-19 on their return. Only high-risk visits (such as an emergency hospital visit) will require the resident to isolate for 10 days, or test for at least six or eight days depending on their vaccination status. The care home will risk assess all visits out and clearly explain which require isolation and/or testing.
Covid-19 booster vaccination
We ask all family and friend visitors to OSJCT care homes to have their Covid-19 booster vaccinations as soon as they are eligible, as an important measure to reduce transmission and the severity of the virus. As the effectiveness of vaccinations reduces over time, a recent vaccination is the best way to protect yourself, your family and those living and working in care homes.
Thank you for your ongoing support for our care homes, and for continuing to use the infection control measures required during visiting. These continue to be important to minimise the risk of Covid-19 and other winter illnesses at this time, to keep your loved ones and all who work, volunteer, and visit in our homes safe.
With best wishes