Updated visiting guidelines for housing with care schemes – 4 August 2021
Following a detailed review of the Government’s most recent guidance, we have updated our visiting policy for our housing with care schemes, where we provide care and support.
As part of these latest changes, we are helping to support more meaningful visiting arrangements for tenants and their families and friends, including changes in relation to named visitors and essential care givers.
While we recognise that the easing of national restrictions has brought new freedoms to us in our general lives, we are conscious that we need to proceed with the easing of restrictions with caution to protect everyone living and working in the schemes, whilst also allowing much greater access where possible.
Following agreement with the Registered Social Landlords of the schemes, the guidance for visiting is as follows:
Essential Care Givers
All tenants can nominate one essential care giver, who will be able to provide a greater degree of personal care or support, that helps with the maintenance of health and wellbeing for their loved one. This person should remain the same person over time, wherever possible.
Essential care givers can visit more often, with individualised arrangements being agreed between the tenant, scheme and their family. These arrangements will be written down as part of the tenant’s care plan and visits will need to be booked to ensure safety is maintained through entrance screening and support.
Each essential care giver will need to take part in enhanced testing, in line with our staff testing programme, and must be prepared to take part in daily testing in the event of an outbreak. The wearing of personal protective equipment, as worn by the staff teams, is strongly advised. It is also strongly recommended that essential care givers receive two doses of the vaccine before conducting visits, although this is not a requirement of visiting.
Unlike many other visitors, essential care givers will be able to continue visiting their loved one in the event of an outbreak at the scheme as long as it is safe to do so.
The restriction on the number of named visitors has been removed, so tenants can now nominate as many named visitors as they wish. Within reason, these named visitors should remain unchanged.
Named visitors are advised to keep physical contact to a minimum, which together with other actions such as lateral flow device testing before each visit, wearing of personal protective equipment, good hand hygiene, and following infection prevention and control measures, will help reduce the risk of virus transmission during these visits. It is also strongly recommended that tenants and visitors receive two doses of the vaccine before conducting visits, although this is not a requirement of visiting.
Named visits will need to be booked to ensure safety is maintained through entrance screening and support. Visits can take place in the tenants’ flats, with an assessed safe number of named visitors at any one time, however maintaining a safe distance from other tenants and staff members within the scheme is very important.
Other visitors, not nominated as essential care givers or named visitors, will still be able to visit tenants in the scheme, in designated areas with substantial screens, behind windows or outdoors. An assessment will be required to ensure the visit can happen safely considering the needs and wellbeing of the tenant, as well as the layout and facilities of the scheme.
Visitors will need to make a booking and undergo appropriate Covid testing for each visit. The wearing of personal protective equipment and following of infection prevention and control measures such as maintaining a safe distance will also be required.
A flexible approach to visiting on compassionate grounds, such as visits where a tenant is experiencing distress or approaching the end stages of life is essential. Individual arrangements will be assessed and agreed to maintain dignity and comfort.
Families and friends should be aware that visits will need to be facilitated in line with national guidance, with frequency of visits, entrance screening and infection prevention and control measures still being taken into account.
Visits involving children and young people under 18
Visits involving children are often very important to tenants, however these should be carefully considered by the family and agreed with the scheme in advance. It is very important that any visiting children are able to follow infection prevention and control measures, such as maintaining a safe distance from their loved ones, other tenants and staff members, as well as be able to follow any other advice provided by the care team. Children aged 11 years and over are advised to wear the same PPE as adult visitors. It is not compulsory for children under the age of 3 years to wear face masks.
For all types of visiting, booking remains essential. This is to ensure we continue to comply with safe entrance screening and NHS Test and Trace requirements. There is no time limit on visits that happen within tenants’ flats, but overnight stays will not be permitted. We have also re-introduced the signing in and out book. This helps us to safely manage the numbers of visitors at any one time, maintain safe distances between visitors, staff and other tenants, facilitate testing requirements and preserve the privacy and dignity of other tenants.
Why are tests needed?
While Lateral Flow Device testing is not 100% accurate, they can help us to identify at least some of the people who might be carrying coronavirus without showing symptoms.
We hope you will understand the need for us to see proof of a negative Lateral Flow Device status as this helps us manage the risks of coronavirus while facilitating visits more safely. The scheme can provide packs of seven Lateral Flow Device tests kits for self-testing at home before a visit or you can get these from community pharmacies, asymptomatic testing sites and via the Government website. Test results will need to be registered on the Government website and evidence of this will be required before each visit.
Please be aware
In the event of an outbreak in a scheme, and in line with Government and local Public Health Team guidance, we may need to temporarily halt visiting, only allowing essential care givers and essential visitors into the scheme. We will support continued communication between tenants and their loved ones through video and telephone calls, and in some circumstances, window visits.
For further details
If you have any further questions or queries about visiting family or friends in one of the schemes or you would like to receive an updated copy of the visiting policy, please contact the scheme manager.
We send our thanks and gratitude to the friends and families of tenants for their continued support and co-operation, as we anticipate and work through further changes to Government guidance that will enable us to open up schemes further for our tenants and their loved ones.