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Updated visiting guidelines for our residential care homes –
March 2021

On 4 March 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 in a position 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 for you to be aware of:

1: Controlled ‘Enhanced’ Internal Visits

Each resident can name one individual as their ‘single named visitor’, who will, subject to a Risk Assessment, be able to hold hands with them during indoor visits.

The ‘single named visitor’ will be required to have a lateral flow test (LFT) 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.

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: Controlled Internal Visits – behind substantial screens

One additional person (that is someone other than the ‘single named visitor’) may visit a resident indoors provided that there is a substantial screen between them.

This visitor will also be required to have lateral flow test (LFT) before entering the home – which NorseCare will provide on their arrival.

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.

Please note: To keep things safe, and to keep numbers down within the home at any one time, we cannot accommodate a contact visitor and a screen visitor at the same time.

3: Outdoor and Window Visits

A further two people (that is in addition to the ‘single named visitor’ and the ‘screen visitor’) may now visit a resident in our outdoor spaces.

This would include at a window, or within a visiting pod 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, but 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 to ensure we can safely manage numbers and assure social distancing can be observed, and testing can take place.

So please continue to book appointments in order to visit as before.

Why do I have to take a test?

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

While LFTs 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?

Your home will guide you through the process for testing which is very simple and easy. The tests take around 30 minutes and for safety reasons, you will not be able to enter the home until the result is determined.

We hope that you will agree 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, as you know, we are all responding to an ever-developing situation. In the event of an outbreak in our care home, 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 situations at the home and how many can practically and safely be accommodated. Your home will be able to advise further about this and of course, this may change on an ongoing basis.

If you have any further questions or queries about visiting relatives at your care home, please contact the care home manager.

Thank you in advance for your patience and cooperation. We understand that it has been an extremely difficult time for our residents and their families. We very much hope that the positive position with the vaccine roll-out and reducing cases will allow us to further increase freedoms over the coming months.

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