A SLIGHT expansion of visiting opportunities at the region’s care homes has been introduced – but with significant restrictions still in place due to the ongoing dangers posed by COVID-19.
Up to three visitors from no more than two different households can now meet with a care home resident in an outdoor setting. However, this is only on the condition that the care home meets strict criteria, with infection control measures in place.
A care home will only be able to permit visiting if they have been COVID-free throughout the pandemic, or if all affected residents have fully recovered and no residents or staff have had symptoms for 28 days and the home is actively participating in weekly staff testing.
Visitors will need to wear face coverings throughout their visit and physical distancing and hand and cough hygiene will need to be adhered to at all times.
Lillian Cringles is Chief Social Work Officer, and she said: “Routine visiting to care homes was halted completely during the initial response to COVID, which understandably caused frustration for residents, their family and friends.
“After a recent move to allow one individual visitor in an outdoor setting, this is another welcome step which allows more family and friends to see their loved ones.
“However, restrictions do still remain in place for the safety of residents, staff, family and friends, and our wider community. We would encourage everyone to take advantage of these changes, but to continue to follow the directions. Doing so will help ensure this level of access remains in place, and will help support moves aimed at further increasing opportunities for visiting.”
Moves are currently being taken forward to safely allow one designated indoor visitor for residents within their homes. Care home providers have been asked to have plans for indoor visiting in each home submitted by 24 August. They must be agreed by the respective Director of Public Health once they are satisfied that the plan and the home meets all the criteria for indoor visiting.
Essential visits, including those involving end of life care, and visits for residents who are experiencing distress have been permitted throughout the pandemic and should continue to be supported by care homes.
Lillian Cringles said: “Details on any subsequent changes to arrangements will be provided. We would encourage anyone with any questions about visiting care homes during COVID to speak to the relevant care home manager.”