Mario Kreft MBE, Chair of Care Forum Wales has suggested restricting visits to care homes as coronavirus continues to spread.
The social care leader is urging people not to not to visit relatives living in care homes unless it’s 'absolutely essential', saying care homes are safe havens for older people and those who are vulnerable so it is vital to ensure the highest possible standards of infection control.
Kreft, who owns eight care homes in Wrexham and Caernarfon, is also calling on health boards to cut bureaucracy so that older patients who no longer need hospital care can be transferred to care homes.
Care Forum Wales is in regular contact with the Welsh Government's health experts and are passing on the latest advice to their members across Wales.
Mario said, 'In my organisation...we’re already significantly reducing the number people entering homes and we’ve introduced washing stations outside each of them.
'We’ve got to do everything that we can to ensure that people are safe, and I would say this to anybody who wants to visit a loved one in a care home to think very, very carefully because totally accidentally this virus could be transmitted.
'Simply put, not visiting care homes is likely to save people’s lives. I think it’s very important that we recognise that care homes will be a safe haven.
'There has been a lot of talk about cocooning people. It makes a lot of sense as a principle to use our care homes. There are over 20,000 people in care homes in Wales and over 500,000 in the UK. We need to ensure that those organisations are properly supported to do the job that they’re there to do and that is to protect and safeguard the people that they care for, and their staff.
'The other important thing now is to make sure that we get as many people into the sector where there is capacity. It is important to relieve pressure on the NHS which is already pretty much at capacity...We need to learn from the Italian experience in terms of increasing capacity in our health care system.
'...We need to do everything possible to protect our vulnerable people. It is our duty as a caring society to do that.'
For guidance on handling coronavirus, including whether or not you should be restricting visits to care homes, visit www.gov.uk or see the National Care Forum's dedicated page with information and resources.