HUNDREDS of thousands of care home residents in England can now enjoy indoor visits from a nominated friend or relative.
But hugging and kissing loved ones after months of separation is banned under strictly controlled conditions.
Nicky Clough visits her mum Pam Harrison at Alexander House Care Home for the first time in London, March 8 2021Credit: Reuters
What is the guidance for visiting care homes?
Loved ones can now visit care home residents in person, as part of the first phase of lockdown easing in England – however there are several rules.
From March 8, 2021, each care home resident in England will be able to name and receive one visitor.
They can make repeated visits under “carefully designed conditions to keep residents, staff and visitors safe”, says the government.
That person will be required to take a Covid test before dropping in, wear personal protective equipment (PPE) during the stay and avoid close contact beyond holding hands.
“There will be discretion for care homes to allow more than one named visitor in exceptional circumstances,” the government adds.
Residents with the highest care needs will also be able to nominate an essential care giver.
It’s been a tough time for care home residents and their families and friendsCredit: Getty – Contributor
Plus, care homes can continue to offer visits to other friends or family members with arrangements such as outdoor visiting, substantial screens, visiting pods, or behind windows.
- Vaccination is not mandatory and will not be a condition of visiting loved ones in care homes.
- Visits will be suspended during local outbreaks in individual homes.
- Visits by essential care givers and exceptional circumstances including end of life should “always be enabled”, says the government.
- Care homes can decide how often and for how long visitors can be on the premises.
- Visits should take place in a well-ventilated room, for example with windows and doors open where it is safe to do so.
Loved ones can hold hands – but hugging and kissing are still bannedCredit: Aaron Chown/PA
Visitors and residents are advised to keep physical contact to a minimum, says the government, to prevent the spread of Covid.
The nominated visitor and resident are allowed to hold hands.
However there should not be close physical contact such as hugging or kissing.
Visitors “should bear in mind that any contact increases the risk of coronavirus transmission“, says official advice.
You can now hold hands with loved ones in care homes in England
Although hand-holding is allowed, visitors must wear PPE in care homes to protect residents.
Visitors to care homes need to take a rapid lateral flow test and test negative before every visit.
If the visitor tests positive they must immediately leave the premises to go home and self-isolate, avoiding public transport.
Care home managers have discretion to set up their own testing areas.
The government has allowed these visits to start as part of its careful plan to normality in the UK after the third lockdown.
“This includes more than 90 per cent of those aged 65 and over and almost nine in ten people who are clinically extremely vulnerable.”
Melanie Grove sees her mother Barbara Baxter, 89, at Highcliffe Rest Home in Chorley, Lancs, on March 8, 2021Credit: Mercury Press