The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) published new guidance this week in relation to care home residents making visits out of care homes.
This guidance applies to residential care homes and care homes residents of all ages. There is separate guidance for supported living and extra care settings.
The DHSC said that opportunities for care home residents to make visits out of the home are an important part of life. However, even as the vaccine roll-out increases, there are still risks involved in visits out.
This guidance sets out the approach that care homes should take to planning and supporting visits out of the home where residents wish to make them. It explains the measures that should be taken – by the home, the resident, and others taking part in the visit – to manage the risks.
The most significant of these is the requirement that a resident making a visit out of the care home should isolate for 14 days on their return (the day of return is day zero). This is to ensure that – in the event, they have unknowingly become infected while out of the home – they minimise the chances of passing that infection on to other residents and staff. The DHSC says that they recognise that in practice, this is likely to mean that many residents will not wish to make a visit out of the home. The guidance mentions that providers are best placed to define their overall policy for how outward visits are supported safely and in a way that takes into account the needs of their residents and what is possible within the facilities and resources of the care home. Where outward visits are taking place, this should happen in agreement with the home and subject to individual and whole-home risk assessments.
The Government has highlighted that care homes should always support visits out in exceptional circumstances, such as to visit a friend or relative at the end of their life. There is hope for the future and further relaxation of restrictions, the Government wants to go further and allow more visits to take place outside of the care home.
Visits out will be kept under review over the coming months as the Government looks carefully at the effectiveness of the vaccines for people living in care homes as well as levels of infection in the local community, and the impact of new variants.
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Visit the Department of Health and Social Care website to read the guidance in full.