Is July 19 really 'freedom day' in care homes?

Raj Sehgal, Iceni House, Tom Lyons

Raj Sehgal, of ArmsCare, Iceni House, and Tom Lyons of Black Swan care have spoken about the July 19 impact on care homes. - Credit: ArmsCare/Google/Ian Burt

One Norfolk care home is holding a 'freedom day' party on Monday - but there is widespread caution at many others. 

With the final Covid restrictions officially lifting on July 19, many health and social care settings said they would retain enforcing social distancing and mask wearing. 

Christmas cards designed and drawn by children across Norfolk's schools are handed out to residents

Iceni House staff during EDP's Christmas Cards for Care Homes campaign - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Among those to feel more confident to take more relaxing steps is Iceni House in Swaffham.

Manager Dawn Bunter said the home did not feel it should be the gatekeeper to people's families and produced policies to help residents see their loved ones more before July 19. 

This included removing the 30-minute visit limit and opening to more than one visitor, allowing residents to meet great-grandchildren for the first time as well as a new testing pilot scheme. 

Visitors will continue to wear face masks and shields indoors and can continue to enjoy visits outside the home. 

There will be a Freedom Day party in its garden but the manager said it was not about marking restrictions lifting but moving on from Covid.

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Mrs Bunter said: "At the end of the day the home has overall responsibility. We have never ever had a relative test positive.

"We have been there. I understand the fear factor. We have had an outbreak here and it was really frightening and really stressful. What we have learned from that outbreak was the decline of the residents and their wellbeing."

Raj Sehgal, owner and managing director of Arms Care Picture: Docking House

Raj Sehgal, owner and managing director of Arms Care Picture: Docking House - Credit: Docking House

Raj Sehgal, managing director of ArmsCare, looks after 120 residents across four homes in west Norfolk. He said the company would continue with current Covid measures including mask wearing, testing on arrival, and purifying and fogging rooms. 

He said providers were still waiting for government guidelines after the announcement on Monday. This was the case for Kingsley Healthcare, which said it was unable to say how things would work from Monday. 

Mr Sehgal said: "The only change that may come along is the number of visitors that we have. 

"It appears to me, the government is throwing caution to the wind at a time we are seeing daily escalating deaths and cases then pushing the responsibility on to the providers. it is negligent in my opinion. 

"Our common sense is telling us it is not the right time to have an open door policy."

Tom Lyons is the Black Swan care group manager. Picture: Ian Burt

Tom Lyons is the Black Swan care group manager. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

Black Swan's managing director Tom Lyons said retaining protective measures will help ensure the safety of staff and residents.

He said: “Visitors are asked to continue to wear a face covering, unless they are exempt, and to follow social distancing when visiting our care home."