Care home residents to be allowed one regular visitor from 8 March
Date published: 22 February 2021
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One regular visitor will be permitted for care home residents from next month
The government has announced that care home residents will be allowed one regular indoor visitor from 8 March, as part of the roadmap to ease lockdown restrictions.
The scheme will allow a single visitor to hold hands indoors with their relative or contact in a care home, and make repeat visits under carefully designed conditions to keep residents, staff and visitors safe.
Every resident will have the opportunity to name one visitor, who will receive a lateral flow test beforehand, wear PPE during the visit, avoid close contact and be required to follow infection prevention and control measures.
There will be discretion for care homes to allow more than one named visitor in exceptional circumstances and visiting will be suspended during local outbreaks in individual homes.
The Prime Minister is due to make a statement later today (22 February) about other aspects of the easing of restrictions, including the reopening of schools to all pupils, changes to the number of people permitted to mix outdoors and the restart date of some outdoor activities and sports.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: "I know how important visiting a loved one is and I’m pleased we will soon be in a position for people to be carefully and safely reunited with loved ones who live in care homes.
"This is just the first step to getting back to where we want to be. We need to make sure we keep the infection rate down, to allow greater visiting in a step-by-step way in the future."
Restrictions on visits have been in place during national lockdown to protect vulnerable residents. While coronavirus cases remain high, the number of infections is falling. The government says that the UK’s vaccination programme has seen every care home resident offered a jab, with almost 17 million vaccinations carried out in total.
Outdoor, pod and screen visits will be able to continue in line with the guidance in place during lockdown, meaning there will be chances for residents to see more than just the one person they nominate.
The clinically led approach has been designed in partnership with the Deputy Chief Medical Officers and Public Health England and is the next step towards regular indoor visits resuming.
Minister for Care Helen Whately said: "One of the hardest things during this pandemic has been seeing families desperate to be reunited with their loved ones kept apart and I absolutely want to bring them back together.
"Throughout this pandemic we have sought clinical guidance on how visits can be conducted safely.
"We had to restrict the majority of visiting when the new variant was discovered but we have done all we can to enable visits to continue in some form. That includes providing funding towards costs of screens and PPE.
"As we begin to open up we will move step by step to increase visits while remembering we are still in the grip of a global pandemic."
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