The Government has updated guidance for care home visiting, effective as of Monday 8th March 2021. The new guidance recognises how important it is for the well-being of care home residents and their families to enable regular visiting and is applicable to all SHC homes.
It is important to note that the guidance released is just that, it is not a blanket policy that all care homes 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.
- All care home residents to be allowed one named visitor who can visit inside the home
- The named visitor must take a lateral flow COVID test and test negative before each visit
- The named visitor must wear PPE for their visit & keep physical contact to a minimum
- Families of residents with end-of-life care needs to work with the care home to facilitate visiting
- Residents with critical care needs are able to nominate one essential named care giver
What does that mean:
Can anyone be the 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 be their one named visitor.
If a resident does not have capacity then the care home should facilitate a conversation with the resident’s family members until a named visitor is decided upon.
The government guidance states that it is not necessary for the named visitor to have received their COVID vaccination. However, they strongly advise that they accept their vaccination when they are eligible through the national vaccination rollout.
If you are the 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 before entering the care home & test negative before every visit.
- Wear 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. Guidance mentions that hand-holding should be kept to a minimum & hugging is not advised.
- Visits should take place within a well ventilated room (windows/doors open).
Can the named visitor for a resident change?
It is advised that the named visitor remains the same one person. 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 residents named visitor. 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.
When can other family members visit care home residents indoors?
The government intends to further ease care home visiting restrictions as of the 12th April 2021, providing the data supports this. Their cautious next step is to allow care home residents to have two named visitors.
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?
Care home residents who have critical care needs which require close personal contact from a loved one are allowed one named care giver.
Care givers are subject to the same visiting restrictions as named visitors i.e. they must have a negative lateral flow test and wear PPE for each visit.
As essential Care Givers are only permitted in exceptional circumstances, if there was a COVID outbreak in the home visits can continue unless there are specific reasons which prevent this.
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. An outbreak is defined as 2 or more confirmed cases. Current guidance advised that care homes must cease visitations for a minimum of 28 days.
For any further questions, please contact your Home Manager.