Latest update: 21 February
Latest update on visiting for family and friends following the Government announcement of 20 February.
On February 20, the Government announced that it would shortly be issuing new guidance regarding visiting in care homes, which will come into place from 8 March.
We recognise the sacrifices made by care home residents and their loved ones over the last year. It appears this guidance will acknowledge the progress that is being made through protective measures, the vaccine, and the dedication of our colleagues and put in place the first steps in gradually returning our homes to the happy and open places they have always been.
We will work through the guidance as soon as it is published to understand how we can apply it safely and we will communicate again with further details shortly.
While we assess the guidance we will continue to work through our programme of opening homes to visitors again as announced on 12 February.
We are delighted that some of our homes are now open to visitors. Unfortunately, as others are considered as ‘active outbreak’ homes, in that they have 2 or more positive cases of either colleagues or residents, the Government guidance is that these are not allowed to open to visitors.
However, following a detailed risk assessment and the implementation of a number of measures, including those listed below, we are pleased to be able to start reopening more homes and fully recognise the positive impact that this will have for both residents and loved ones alike.
The criteria for reopening for visits are:
- The home must not be ‘in outbreak’, which is defined as having had two or more positive test results within the last 28 days.
- We have taken into account the recommendations of Public Health England and the Regional Directors of Public Health.
- The home must have a screened visitor room which can be accessed without going into any shared area of the home.
- The home must be able to support Lateral Flow Testing for visits – the ‘instant’ test, which takes just 30 minutes to produce a result. We have had positive results from our pilot across six of our homes and it is being used to regularly test colleagues in all homes. We would recommend that where possible visitors arrive in their cars as there is a 30-minute delay from taking the test to receiving the result.
- The home must have the staffing resource to be able to deep clean the visitor room after every visit and support the resident during the visit.
Each home will also determine how to set up the visiting arrangements as staffing levels must be able to support the additional measures now needed and this will be best determined on a local level. A colleague at your home will contact you directly to advise on visiting processes.
We very much hope that the care sector is moving towards a better spring and summer after a challenging winter. Your support has meant so much to our frontline and support teams in the last 11 months.
“We encourage everyone to go and get jabbed! Together we can beat it!”