Care homes allowed to open to single, ‘constant’ visitors

Care home residents in England are set to be reunited with friends and family as visits begin again following the publication of new guidance.

Local Directors of Public Health will lead assessments on visiting within their local authority. They will be expected to take a measured, risk-assessed approach, considering the situation in specific care homes as well as the community context, including any local outbreaks.

Ultimately, the decision on whether or not to allow visitors, and in what circumstances, is an operational decision and for the provider and managers of each individual setting to make. This decision should be based on the advice from the Director of Public Health, as well as any additional advice or guidance from the local infection control lead from the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), and the local PHE Health Protection Team.

To limit risk where visits do go ahead, this should be limited to a single constant visitor, per resident, wherever possible, and in a planned way. This is to limit the overall number of visitors to the care home and the consequent risk of infection.

Providers should also consider whether visits could take place in a communal garden or outdoor area, which can be accessed without anyone going through a shared building.

Care home providers should encourage all visitors to wear a face covering and to wash their hands thoroughly before and after putting it on and taking it off. 

Visitors should wear appropriate further PPE depending on the need of their visit, including gloves and aprons. 

Care homes should support NHS Test and Trace by keeping a temporary record, including address and phone number, of current and previous residents, staff and visitors as well as keeping track of visitor numbers and staff.

  • West Berkshire Council has published a Responsible Visiting Code to support care home visits. The code contains elements as a booking system, a limit on visitors to two (who must be from the same household), social distancing, the wearing of appropriate PPE, and temperature checks on arrival.
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