The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock has provided assurances that care home residents in England will be able to receive visits in a “Covid-secure way”. But, what does this mean? Full guidance was published yesterday and the options for safe visits include the following:
- Use of temporary structures and visiting areas such as visiting pods with screens and/or in a conservatory.
- Use of windows; the visitor does not then need to enter into the care home.
- Ensuring that visitors and residents enter through different entrances
- Visits are encouraged to take place in the open air where possible.
- Care home’s are invited to consider the use od speaker or assisted hearing devices to aid communication from a distance.
- Further support for residents to engage in remote visits through technology.
The guidance states that care home’s visiting policy should be made available and communicated to both the resident and their families. If you have concerns about visiting a loved one, talk to the care home manager and ask what the visiting policy is. Note, the guidance advises visitors to be limited to maximum of two constant visitors per residents.
For many residents who may be bed bound, have communication difficulties or those with forms of dementia, these proposed options will be unusable and could be extremely distressing and detrimental to their wellbeing. When people are in the later stages of dementia or approaching end of life, the need to be as close as possible with your loved one is essential for all involved. Whilst there is of course the priority to protect some of the most vulnerable people in our society from the spread of Covid-19 many care homes may well not have the resources available to be able to implement the advised options discussed.
Matt Hancock said: “Care homes should feel empowered by this new guidance to look at safe options to allow visits to care homes that suit their residents and facilities. It is vital high quality, compassionate care and infection control remains at the heart of every single care home to protect staff and residents’ lives, but we must allow families to reunite in the safest way possible.”
If you have concerns about a loved one in a care setting during the lockdown please contact our specialist team on 01926 354704.