By Rachael Grealish
Care home residents to be allowed a second regular visitor indoors, with tests required before entry and PPE provided.
This is set to come in when further lockdown restrictions are due to be eased on Monday April 12.
Regular visits are being extended from one to two people under carefully designed conditions to prevent transmission of COVID-19 and one care home in Whitehaven say they are ‘very pleased’ with the news.
Joy Ditchburn, from The Bethany House Group, said: “We are very pleased that we once again are able to welcome visitors into the care homes.
“Our residents are thrilled to bits that they once again have the opportunity to see their loved ones without them having to be separated by glass screens.”
Joy went on to say the staff hope to get visiting ‘back to something like normal’ as more people are vaccinated.
“It is only two named visitors at the moment but hopefully as the vacation roll out continues then we will be allowed to get back to something like normal, let’s hope and pray this soon happens,” she said.
Visitors will be asked to provide a negative test result and wear PPE during the visit to keep themselves, staff and residents safe.
In the coming weeks, as testing capacity continues to increase, some visitors will be able to conduct tests at home, rather than at care homes, to help manage the flow of visitors and allow more visits to take place.
Visitors who are parents will also be able to visit with babies and very young children, who will not count as one of the visitors.
This means grandparents and great-grandparents will be able to meet the newest members of their families for the first time.
Minister for Care Helen Whately said: “Increasing care home visiting is a top priority as we ease Covid restrictions. I know just how much these visits mean to residents and their loved ones.
“I’m pleased we were able to introduce more meaningful visits to care homes in March. Seeing friends and family reunited has been incredibly moving. Thank you to all of our amazing care workers for helping to make this possible.
“We want to go further, so we’re allowing more visitors at this next stage of the roadmap – and our aim is to make visiting care homes as normal as possible by the summer.
“We know how cruel this virus can be in care homes so we must continue to follow the science and data, but things are looking up.”
Arrangements for essential care givers for those residents who require the greatest support, and which have been welcomed by residents and care providers, will continue.
Some residents, such as those with advanced dementia, some autistic people, and people with a learning disability need a particular, trusted person to provide some aspects of their care, which is why the essential care giver scheme will also be extended.
All care home providers, not experiencing an outbreak, will be asked to follow the updated guidance and continue to work together with families, and local professionals, to ensure visits are possible, while continuing to limit the risk of transmission of COVID-19.