Care home residents will be able to see more of their family and friends, including overnight stays, without having to isolate from 21 June, the Department of Health and Social Care has announced.
The rule changes, in contrast to many of the ‘road map’ plans for Monday now being delayed for four weeks, will also mean new residents in homes will no longer have to self-isolate on arrival. Although, they will need a PCR Covid-19 test – which is sent to a lab, and normally for people with symptoms – before admission and another seven days later.
The changes also mean care home residents will still need to self-isolate for a fortnight after an overnight stay at a hospital or a visit deemed ‘high-risk’ when considering factors including vaccination, local infection levels and methods of transport.
People moving into the home will need to self-isolate if admitted from a hospital or another care home. Currently, residents can only leave the care home for ‘low-risk’ trips such as visits outdoors and eating outside restaurants without having to isolate for 14 days.
The changes will also strengthen the ‘essential care giver’ role. Every resident is now able to nominate a family member or friend to provide care on visits, who will have to use the same PPE and testing as care home workers, and can continue to visit during an outbreak.
The Department of Health and Social Care said more details will be included in updated guidance on the changes to be published ‘in due course’.
National Care Forum CEO Vic Rayner said the rule change is an ‘important step’ as ‘the vital connection between residents and their loved ones has been broken for too long for many people’.
But the Government ‘must take action immediately to support these changes’, Ms Rayner added. She highlighted that infection prevention and control funding for care homes comes to an end on 30 June, after it was extended in March following outcry.
She said: ‘Care providers desperately need future funding confirmed to ensure they can continue to pay staff to isolate effectively, to increase their capacity to facilitate and administer enhanced testing for those admitted to care homes, or visiting out of care homes, and enhanced visiting capacity and testing for greater numbers of essential care givers.’
Minister for care Helen Whately said: ‘I have heard first-hand from those living and working in care homes how difficult the restrictions around visiting have been and I’m incredibly grateful to everyone working in the sector who has helped reunite families safely.
‘Thanks to the continued success of the vaccine rollout, I am pleased we can now take another step towards normality, helping more people enjoy visits out of the care home while protecting them from the continued risk of Covid-19.’ The Government yesterday confirmed its controversial plans to require all care home staff to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 – and said it is considering extending the policy to NHS staff.