From Monday 17th May, care home residents will be able to have more named visitors and more opportunities to make visits out with no need to self-isolate when they return.
As part of step 3 of the roadmap, the number of named family members or friends able to visit their loved ones in care homes will increase from two to five, as the visiting restrictions continue to ease. A maximum of two visitors will be allowed at any one time or on any given day.
This follows a reduction in COVID-19 cases and the ongoing successful vaccine rollout with 95% of older care home residents receiving their first jab.
Residents will also be able to go to medical appointments, a workplace, educational setting, and day centres without having to self-isolate on their return.
The period when a COVID-19 outbreak in a care home can be declared over will also change from 28 days to 14 days after the last positive case assuming there are no Variants of Concern (VOCs) identified. This means visits can resume sooner following an outbreak, once the relevant testing has been completed and provided all staff and residents tested to receive a negative result.
Minister for Care, Helen Whately, said, ‘The measures we have taken during this pandemic have always been to protect our most vulnerable, but I have heard first-hand from those living and working in care homes how difficult the restrictions have been. Thanks to the phenomenal success of the vaccine rollout and a reduction in cases across the country, I am pleased we can now take another step towards getting back to normal while protecting those in care homes from the continued risk of Covid-19.
'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.'
Chief Nurse for Adult Social Care, Professor Deborah Sturdy, said, 'The pandemic has been so difficult for those living in care homes and our social care workforce have done a brilliant job of keeping their residents safe and supported. I know this change to the guidance will be a huge boost to so many, giving more people the chance to reunite with more of their friends and family.'
Chair of the Adult Social Care Covid-19 Taskforce, Sir David Pearson, said, ‘This is a significant step on the road to normality for so many. We are only able to increase visits in and out of care homes thanks to the hard work of social care staff maintaining good infection prevention and control, and the effect of the vaccines in driving down transmission.’
Helen Wildbore, Director of The Relatives and Residents Association, said, 'These changes are welcome, but they are baby steps forward for those living in care whilst the rest of the country leaps ahead with a raft of measures to lift lockdown. Some of the changes are not even a step forward at all, but merely bring an end to terrible policies which have been imposed only on care users – like dropping the two-week quarantine after medical appointments, which has prevented many older people from accessing vital healthcare. We urgently need a strategy from the Government for re-opening care homes to stop residents being left behind.'
Leading organisations in the social care sector have expressed their disappointment today, following the lack of detailed mention about social care in the Queen’s Speech.