What is the New Guidance on Care Home Visits from 17th May?

What is the New Guidance on Care Home Visits from 17th May?

Posted by Rachel Bashford

What is the New Guidance on Care Home Visits from 17th May?

Visiting loved ones in care homes has been extremely limited during the pandemic. However, there are new changes to advice that could impact your visit.

This guide will give you the latest care home information so that you have access to current rules.

New guidance on care home visits after May 17th

Keep reading for updates on:

  • The latest guidance for care home visits
  • What to expect from indoor visits
  • Guidelines for outdoors
  • Testing for visitors
  • Safety for everyone during visits.

It is clear that during the pandemic, care home residents and their loved ones have dealt with very tough restrictions.

For many, these have been difficult times, without the ability to touch and talk to loved ones properly.

The rules are changing in all four nations of the UK. You will probably want to check the rules related to where you live in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland here.

The great news is that care homes are cautiously relaxing some restrictions to make things easier for residents and their families. This change has been welcomed across the sector as concern over wellbeing and residents’ loneliness has increased.

The government has published guidance on 12th April 2021(updated on 10th May), that has changed how homes can proceed with welcoming visitors from 17thMay.

This blog will cover all of the most important points. If you want to read the full document for England, you can find it here.

The Latest Guidance for English Care Home Visits

Wondering what your care home visit will be like?

It is a good idea to ask your particular care home for their specific plans and procedures, as every home will have their own way of doing things.

Generally, you can expect the following guidance from the government to be in place:

  • Every care home resident can nominate up to 5 named visitors who can visit separately or with a maximum of 2 visitors on the same day.
  • The named visitor will have to complete a lateral flow test on the same day as their visit, wear PPE and follow infection control measures set in place by the care home.
  • Hand holding is acceptable, but closer contact carries the risk of increased transmission. Hugging is discouraged at the moment, but this decision could change over the next few weeks and months.
  • Residents can choose an essential care giver in addition to the 5 named visitors. This person could be needed for intimate care with particularly vulnerable residents.
  • Homes can continue to offer other visits to family and friends through outdoor settings, visiting pods and substantial screened visits.
  • Visits in exceptional circumstances, such as end of life, are allowed. These visitors must also have lateral flow tests on the day of visiting.
  • Care home residents can leave their home for medical appointments, day courses, educational visits and to go to a workplace without self-isolating for 14 days afterwards from 17th May.

What to Expect from Indoor Visits in England

Many care homes will have their guidance in place as to how they want visitors to enter their home and interact with others during their visit.

You will find most follow the advice set out by the Department for Health in the majority of care settings.

Here are the main points for you to keep in mind for your visit:

  • The 5 named visitors can arrange visits (2 on the same day), alongside an essential care giver (if there is one).
  • Care homes are required to have a booking system in place and a time slot for you to book ahead of the visit.
  • The home will ask you to come along and complete a lateral flow test around an hour before you can properly enter the home. You will have to wait for the result (has to be negative) so that the visit can take place.
  • You will have to wear appropriate PPE, including gloves and a mask. You aren’t supposed to remove this during your visit.
  • Social distancing measures are still in place at the moment. This may change over coming months.
  • Good ventilation should be in place within the home. Homes have been advised to keep windows open to enable a clear flow of air throughout. The diagram below shows you how this might look.

New guidance on care home visits after May 17th
Source: CDC.gov

This may all sound a little daunting at first, but it’s good to keep in mind that this is all about keeping your loved one safe and protecting others, along with yourself.

It helps to note that this is temporary and these measures won’t be in place for ever. The government has indicated that advice may change over the summer.

Outdoor Visits are Encouraged

Residents will have more freedom in outdoor settings from 17th May. There is a variety of locations that can be used for outside visits. The government wants visitors to take residents outside for walks and in parks or gardens for get togethers.

Outside is viewed as better for everyone because of fresh air reducing the chance of virus transmission. Plus, it gives residents an opportunity to get some much-needed sunlight which has been really missing from their lives over the last year.

The government has said it wants social distancing measures and PPE, such as masks, to be in place during outside visits.

Pod or screened visits (see below) are still popular as they are seen as safe and useful for residents who can’t walk or travel very far. They are also good for people who are vulnerable or under the weather.

New guidance on care home visits after May 17th
Source: Manchestereveningnews.co.uk

Outside Visits

From 17th May, care home residents can make low-risk visits out of their home. This may be to the homes of their named visitors and close family without the need to self-isolate for 14 days on their return.

They can also attend medical appointments, workplaces, educational settings and day courses without self-isolating.

This follows a dramatic reduction of Covid infections and with 95% of care home residents having received their first jab.

Minister for Care, Helen Whately said:

“The new guidance allows more family and friends to reunite and reduces the need to self-isolate, which I know many have found incredibly challenging. As we turn the tide on this cruel virus, I want to make visiting as normal as possible by the summer, and this is an important step on that path.”

You can view the most recent guidance here.

Testing for Visitors

If you are arranging a care home visit, you will be asked to complete a lateral flow test on the same day as your visit.

Most care homes have a testing system in place so that they can be sure of the result and to make visiting easier.

However, the government has stated that you can complete a lateral flow test either at home or at an approved testing site on the same day as your visit, as long as the care home has evidence of the negative result.

This evidence should be:

  • An email or text from NHS Test and Trace
  • A date-stamped photo of the test cartridge itself.

The diagram below shows you how the tests are administered, if you have not been through the process already.

New guidance on care home visits after May 17th

Safety of Visits for Everyone

The vaccination programme rollout has been such a success that many of the restrictions are being eased with a cautious level of confidence that safety for all can hopefully be achieved.

The latest vaccination figures show a greater proportion are now receiving second doses to fully protect them from the virus.

New guidance on care home visits after May 17th
Source: england.nhs.uk

Friends and family will undoubtedly feel very relieved to see the strong second vaccination statistics in older age groups.

This means that as more and more vulnerable people receive virus protection, infection rates will reduce and rules will be relaxed further.

Good news for everyone who lives or works in a care home, or has a loved one in this situation.

Need to Talk?

Even with the easing of restrictions, things can still be tough for care home residents and their loved ones.

We hope you’re staying as safe as possible.

If you’d like to speak with a Care Expert about arranging support for yourself or a loved one, call our Advice Line on 01892 335 330.

We’re available to speak from Monday to Sunday (8:30am - 5:30pm Mon-Fri, 10am - 5pm Sat, 10am - 4pm Sun).

Email is another option, too. You can reach out on: info@autumna.co.uk

Take care, from the team at Autumna

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