Care home residents will be allowed five named visitors – up from the current maximum of two – from next Monday, the Government has announced as part of step three of its roadmap out of lockdown.
Under the changes, residents will also be able to make more visits without self-isolating for 14 days afterwards – such as medical appointments, going to work and day centres – although they will have to self-isolate after an overnight trip.
Visitors must take a lateral flow test, wear PPE and follow infection control measures. Residents can be visited by a maximum of five visitors at the same time or on a given day, although these daily limits do not apply to very young children or essential care givers.
In addition, visits can resume after 14 days following the last positive case of an outbreak, assuming there are no variants of concern – instead of the current 28 days.
The Government said the move follows the vaccine rollout and a reduction in Covid-19 cases. The latest official figures showed there were 14,689 UK cases last week, down by 4.3% on the week before, while more than 95% of care home residents have received their first jab.
More details of the changes will be released in guidance to be released ‘in due course’, the Government said.
Adult social care chief nurse Professor Deborah Sturdy said: ‘The pandemic has been so difficult for those living in care homes and our social care workforce have done a brilliant job of keeping their residents safe and supported.
‘I know this change to the guidance will be a huge boost to so many, giving more people the chance to reunite with more of their friends and family.’
Minister for care Helen Whately said: ‘The new guidance allows more family and friends to reunite, and reduces the need to self-isolate, which I know many have found incredibly challenging.
‘As we turn the tide on this cruel virus I want to make visiting as normal as possible by the summer, and this is an important step on that path.’
Last week, the Joint Committee on Human Right warned that the Government must put into law that care home providers should not implement blanket bans on residents’ visits.
This came after the Government announced changes allowing residents to go on ‘low-risk’ visits without having to self-isolate on their return.