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Updated visiting guidelines for our residential care homes – 12 April 2021

On 6 April, the Department of Health and Social Care released new visiting guidance for care homes. The guidance includes positive plans to enable enhanced visits in care homes, as part of the Prime Minister’s ‘road map’ to ease lockdown restrictions.

Following a detailed review of the contents, we are pleased to be able to update our visiting policy, to include the opportunity for more meaningful ‘enhanced’ visits for relatives and residents, safely and securely.

There are now three key updates to our visiting policy to be aware of:

1: Controlled ‘Enhanced’ Internal Visits

Each resident can name two individuals as ‘named visitors’, who may, subject to a risk assessment, be able to hold hands with them during indoor visits.

The ‘named visitors’ will be required to have a lateral flow device test (LFD) before entering the home, which NorseCare will provide on their arrival.

They must also wear the personal, protective equipment (PPE) provided to them at the home throughout the visit.

Apart from hand holding, they must avoid close contact such as hugging and kissing, bearing in mind that any contact increases the risk of transmission.

The visit will take place indoors, within an area set aside by the care home, under carefully designed conditions to keep residents, staff and visitors safe.

2: Essential Care Giver

For some residents, a visit from a loved one who provides a greater degree of personal care or support, may be central to maintaining their immediate health and wellbeing.

In such cases, in addition to the named visitors, and with the agreement of the care home, the resident can have an Essential Care Giver, who will be enabled and supported to provide this care, and they will be able to visit more often. The Essential Care Giver will have access to the same PCR and rapid lateral flow testing frequency and PPE arrangements as a member of care home staff.

The Essential Care Giver does not need to be the same person as one of the named visitors. A resident can be accompanied by an Essential Care Giver (where that is agreed with the care home) as well as the two named visitors.

3: Visits involving children and young people aged under 18

We recognise that it may be difficult for friends and family to make a visit if they are not able to bring children with them. Any children visiting (apart from babies and very young children) should be counted towards the maximum number allowed for the visit. It is possible for someone aged under 18 to be a named visitor or an essential care giver, if deemed appropriate.

It is very important that any children visiting are able to follow Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) measures carefully. This will include social distancing, PPE use (where appropriate), and advice on minimising physical contact, as well as being able to follow any other instructions or advice the care home staff might provide.

Visits including babies and very young children under the age of 2 may also take place with the agreement of the care home manager. These children do not need to be counted as an additional visitor.

As is the case with visitors of all ages, there should be no close physical contact between babies or young children and the residents they are visiting.

Children aged 11 and over should wear the same PPE as adult visitors. It is not compulsory for children under the age of 3 years to wear face masks.

4: Outdoor and Window Visits

Up to two other people at a time may now visit a resident in our outdoor spaces. These need not be the same as the ‘named visitors’.

This would include at a window, or within a garden area or a similar type of arrangement.

They must also wear the personal, protective equipment (PPE) provided to them at the home throughout the visit.

There is no need for testing with outdoor and window visits, however, these are available, and managers may request a test is completed, where risks to a resident, their visitors, supporting staff or other residents are increased. This will be discussed when the visit is booked.

All infection control and social distancing measures remain critical in all spaces in and around the care home.

Booking

For all types of visit, indoors and outdoors, booking remains essential. This is to ensure we continue to comply with NHS Test and Trace requirements. It also helps us to safely manage numbers of visitors at any one time, maintain social distancing and testing requirements as well as preserve the privacy and dignity of other residents.

Why are tests needed?

For all indoor visits, lateral flow device testing (LFD) is essential, and we reserve the right to refuse access to anyone that refuses a test.

While LFDs are not 100% accurate, they can help us to identify at least some of those people who might be carrying coronavirus, but who are not yet showing symptoms.

What happens with testing?

Staff at the home will guide visitors through the process for testing which is very simple and easy. The tests take around 30 minutes and for safety reasons, entry to the home will not be permitted until the result of the test is determined.

We hope that the 30-minute testing process is a small inconvenience, as it helps us further manage the risks of coronavirus and allows us to enable visiting more safely.

Please be aware

However, we are all responding to an ever-developing situation. In the event of an outbreak in one of our homes, and in line with government guidance, we would temporarily put all visiting on hold, and only allow essential visits for residents approaching end of life and for those showing extreme, distressed behaviours.

In addition, whilst we are keen to facilitate as many visits as possible, this will depend on the individual situation at the home and how many can practically and safely be accommodated. Each home will be able to advise further about this and of course, this may change on an ongoing basis.

For any further questions or queries about visiting relatives at a home, please contact the home manager.

We continue to thank relatives and friends of our residents for their co-operation. As rates of infection in communities fall and numbers of people vaccinated rises, we look forward to further changes in guidance which will enable us to open up homes for our residents and their loved ones.

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