The broad principle of routine visiting even during outbreaks of infection has been introduced in Wales, in the latest care home COVID visiting guidance.
Version 12 guidance, which supersedes previous versions, makes the following key changes:
- To reflect changes to Public Health Wales’s updated ‘guidance to prevent and manage COVID-19 within care settings alongside other respiratory viruses during autumn / winter 2021-22’.
- To enable essential visitors to visit people who are self-isolating following discharge from hospital
Updated PHW guidance supports the broad principle of more routine visiting into and out of care homes during some outbreaks, depending on public health advice for the specific outbreak.
The guidance makes the following key points:
- Care Homes will no longer be declared in “red status” with consequent implications of closure and restriction of movement in relation to single cases of COVID-19 or unrelated cases. (An example of unrelated cases would be a staff case where it was clear that their acquisition was likely to be from outside the care home environment and a single case in a resident, who had no link to the staff member).
- The declaration of an outbreak due to COVID-19, will now move to a position consistent with existing guidance for the declaration of an outbreak due to any infectious disease, and be consistent with the management of influenza and other respiratory virus outbreaks in care homes.
- Incorporating vaccination status in the risk assessments to facilitate discharges from hospital into care homes and admissions into care homes from the community; reflecting changes in testing and isolation requirements in updated Welsh Government policy.
- Whole home testing is no longer recommended as part of first line management of COVID-19 incidents / outbreaks or to declare an outbreak over. Whole home testing may still be recommended by an IMT or by the local Health Protection Team as part of investigation and management of an outbreak or incident of COVID-19.