The Government has released updated guidance for care home visiting, effective from 19th July 2021. The new guidance recognises how important it is for the well-being of care home residents and their families to enable regular visiting.
It is important to note that the guidance released is just that, it is not a blanket policy that all care home’s must follow. The government recognises that Care Home Managers are best placed to make decisions about the safest way to introduce visiting based on the layout of their home.
1. All care home residents are allowed named visitors who can visit inside the home for regular visits. There is no limit on the number of named visitors a single resident can have and no nationally set limit on the number who can visit in a single day. Visitors should comply with the care homes arrangements around testing, PPE and limiting close contact.
2. All care home residents can choose to nominate 1 essential care giver who may visit the home to attend to essential care needs. The essential care giver should be enabled to visit in all circumstances, including in the case that the home has an outbreak unless either the care giver or the resident has tested positive for Covid-19. The nominated care givers will need to be supported to follow the same testing, PPE and infection control arrangements as the care homes staff.
3. Named visitors and residents are advised to keep physical contact to a minimum (excluding essential care givers). Handholding is acceptable if hand washing protocols are followed. Close physical contact like hugging presents a higher risk but will be safer between individuals who have been double vaccinated, without face-to-face contact and if contact is brief.
4. Care homes can continue to offer visits to friends & family through arrangements such as outdoor visiting, rooms with substantial screens, visiting pods or from behind windows.
5. Visits in exceptional circumstance including end of life should always be enabled.
Can anyone be a named visitor of a care home resident?
If a care home resident is deemed to have capacity then they are asked to choose who they would like to have as named visitors.
If a resident does not have the capacity then the care home should facilitate a conversation with the resident’s family members who will be able to decide who they would like to have as named visitors for the resident.
The government guidance states that it is not necessary for a named visitor to have received their covid vaccinations. However, they strongly advise that both visitors and residents receive 2 doses of the vaccination before conducting visits.
If you are a named visitor are there any restrictions on entering the care home?
Please see below the list of requirements the named visitor must comply with:
- Undertake a rapid lateral flow covid test on the day of every visit & test negative before every visit
- Wear appropriate PPE for the duration of their visit. (The level of PPE required is undefined but likely a mask, gloves and apron).
- Named visitor and resident advised to keep physical contact to a minimum. Handholding is acceptable if handwashing protocols are followed. Close personal contact such as hugging present higher risks but will be safer if it's between people who are double vaccinated, without face-to-face contact and contact is brief.
- Visits should take place within a well-ventilated room (windows/doors open)
Can a named visitor for a resident change?
It is advised that the named visitors remain the same within reason. In circumstances where this is no longer possible i.e. long-term illness, then the family should get in touch with the care home to discuss.
Are outdoor visits for other family members still permitted?
Where possible care homes should facilitate visiting for friends/family who are not the resident's named visitors. Social distancing must be maintained by both the resident and visitor with zero physical contact.
These visits are permitted to take place in the following settings: outside, visiting pods, behind screens & windows.
Do all care homes have to follow this guidance & allow visits to take place?
The government has divulged responsibility to local system leaders, such as the Directors of Public Health (DPH) & Directors of Adult Social Services (DASS) as well as individual Care Home Managers about whether visiting is safe to take place.
DPH may provide specific advice for care homes in their territory or for specific geographic territories under their jurisdiction. Decisions taken should be dynamic and proportionate to the current level of risk.
How do you become an essential care giver?
All care home residents are allowed one named care giver which can be a loved one who provides a greater degree of personal care or support to maintain their health and wellbeing.
Care givers should be supported to follow the same testing, PPE and infection control arrangements as care home staff.
It is highly recommended that essential care givers receive 2 doses of the vaccine before conducting visits to a resident.
Can residents with end-of-life care needs have more than one named visitor?
Yes. Family members should discuss their wishes with the care home and work together to support residents with end-of-life care needs.
Can visiting take place if there is a COVID-19 outbreak in the home?
All visiting must cease if a COVID-19 outbreak has been confirmed except in exceptional circumstances such as end of life. Essential care givers can continue to visit unless the resident or care giver has tested positive for Covid-19.
Window and pod visits do not necessarily need to stop during an outbreak - a risk assessment on window visits should be undertaken to take account of specific circumstances of the care home.
It's possible that there will be a local policy and outbreak management arrangements in a local area that will need to be followed. The restrictions will need to be followed until the outbreak has been confirmed as being over which will be at least 14 days after the last laboratory-confirmed or clinically suspected cases were identified in a resident or member of staff at the care home. Providing all recovery testing gives negative results, restrictions on visiting should be removed. Where there is an outbreak of a Covid variant of concern other than VOC-20DEC-01 (Alpha variant) and/or VOC-21APR-02 (Delta variant), visiting should be stopped for 28 days.
We hope that the above gives clarity on the government guidance around visiting in care homes which is effective as of 19/7/21. We will aim to keep this article updated with any changes to the guidance over the coming weeks/months.
If you have any questions about the current visiting policies in specific care homes then please do not hesitate to get in touch.