How care homes can let loved ones in again from March 8
- Credit: PA
Care homes across Norfolk and England have been given four days to implement new guidance which can allow care home residents to see one visitor indoors as part of new easing restrictions.
The Department of Health and Social Care released the guidance on Thursday afternoon for how care home visiting can go ahead from March 8.
The proposals were first announced ahead of the prime minister's roadmap out of lockdown which was set out on February 22.
Under the new guidance, every care home resident can nominate a single named visitor to enter the home for regular visits. Visitors will be tested using rapid lateral flow tests before every visit, wear PPE, and follow infection control measures.
Loved ones will be able to hold hands but are advised to keep physical contact to a minimum to reduce the risk of transmission. The guidance does not permit close physical contact such as hugging.
As part of its lockdown easing measures, the government will assess the impact of the measures and said from no earlier than April 12 look to extend the number of visitors to two per resident.
A spokesman said: "Visiting is a central part of care home life. It is crucially important for maintaining the health, wellbeing and quality of life of residents. Visiting is also vital for family and friends to maintain contact and life-long relationships with their loved ones and contribute to their support and care."
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Residents with the highest care needs will also be able to nominate an essential care giver to support those who may need care and support not easily provided by a member of staff.
This is set out as intimate care such as washing or dressing where the resident becomes distressed unless it is carried out by a familiar loved one or refusal to eat unless they do so in the company of a loved one.
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Guidance has not changed for exceptional circumstances, such as end of life.
Homes are able to continue offering visits for other visitors through outdoor visits, substantial screens, visiting pods or behind windows following social distancing guidance.
The department said care home managers are best placed to decide how their care home can best enable visiting in line with this guidance and in a way that meets the needs of their residents both individually and collectively.
Visitors are not required to be vaccinated but the guidelines recommend visitors and residents take up the opportunity when they are invited for inoculation.