There are no nationally set restrictions on friends and family visiting their loved ones in care homes, the Government has announced.
This newly updated guidance applied from 25th November 2021 and replaces previous guidance on care home visiting. The guidance applies to residential care homes. There is separate guidance for supported living and extra care settings.
The Government expects and encourages providers to facilitate visits wherever possible, and to do so in a risk-managed way.
The Relatives & Residents Association (R&RA) has welcomed the lifting of restrictions on visiting for people living in care but called for work to begin immediately on a fresh approach ‘to end the sustained attack on older people’s human rights’. The charity fears the intention to bring care home residents back in line with the rest of the country will be hampered by guidance which still contains caveats putting their rights at risk.
Helen Wildbore, director of the Relatives & Residents Association, said, ‘Blink and you’ll miss it: the Government have lifted visiting restrictions in care homes across England. This is welcome news, but if the Government had intended this to be ‘freedom day’ for people living in care – four months later than the rest of the country – we fear this will be lost in the pages of ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ that follow, including some deeply troubling caveats which continue to put rights at risk.
‘It is a small ray of hope with Christmas around the corner but after 21 long months, the Government must now show leadership to end the catastrophic attack on older people’s human rights. Work must begin now to overhaul the visiting guidance, putting the rights of people living in care at its heart, before it is too late for too many.’
Yesterday, R&RA launched a new video sharing the story of Frances, 100 years old, and the continued isolation she faces in her care home which she said “doesn’t feel like my home” and pleas “give me back my human rights and freedom the same as the rest of the country. I fought for our freedom!”
The Government has outlined a number of considerations in the guidance to ensure a safe visit. Visit the Government website to read the updated care home visiting guidance in full.
In other news, to coincide with Carers Rights Day, Carers UK published new research to review the impact of the pandemic on carers’ work and how much support has been offered by employers.