Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Care home residents only allowed three visitors under strict new rules this winter

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Bob Underhill, 84, meets with his wife Patricia, 82, suffering from Alzheimer's, as they are allowed to visit with physical contact for the first time at The Chiswick Nursing Centre, which has introduced a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test with results ready in thirty minutes, in London, Britain December 2, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Coombs
Tight new controls are set to be enforced from next week despite high levels of vaccination (Picture: Reuters)

Restrictions on care homes are ‘almost back’ to where they were during the first lockdown.

New measures are being imposed on visitors to residential care settings in a bid to prevent Omicron outbreaks among the most vulnerable. 

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Only three visitors and one essential care worker will be allowed to see residents under tight controls announced by the health departments.

Fully vaccinated residents visiting family and friends outside the care home will be asked to take a lateral flow test on alternate days for two weeks after each outing, while those not vaccinated will have to isolate following an outside visit.

Staff testing will be increased from two lateral flow tests per week to three, alongside a weekly PCR test.

It is understood the guidance will come into force from Wednesday and, according to officials, is designed ‘to balance the current Covid-19 risk and the need to keep people safe in line with clinical advice’.

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The chair of the National Care Association struck a sombre note when discussing the changes and said she was urgently looking for clarification from the government.

FALMOUTH, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 28: (EDITOR'S NOTE: The subjects are the photographer's family.) Karen Hastings visits her stepfather Gordon, who suffers from dementia, at the Langholme Care Home on November 28, 2020 in Falmouth, England. Many care homes in the UK currently do not have access to rapid Covid testing nor do they have the resources to facilitate indoor visits or any visits for families of their residents. (Photo by Hugh R Hastings/Getty Images)
The changes comes as the government races to offer boosters to all vulnerable people with Omicron spreading (Picture: Getty)

Nadra Ahmed called on ministers to set out whether people can change the nominated three people to visit someone who is in a care home.

She told BBC Breakfast: ‘Families are much bigger than [three people], if you’ve got four siblings, five siblings, you’ve got grandchildren, great grandchildren.

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‘It was something that we’ve been having to plan for and, of course, now we’re looking at three nominated people. That kind of disempowers anybody else and for the residents, they may have been looking forward to it.

‘We raise expectations on this quite substantially and, of course, we’re almost back to where we were, just slightly better, but almost back to where we were last year.’

James White, head of public affairs and campaigns at Alzheimer’s Society, said the new guidance is ‘deeply concerning’.

He added: ‘More than 70% of care home residents are living with dementia and we know that restricting their contact with loved ones can lead to significant and irreversible deterioration in their symptoms.

Britain's Health Secretary Sajid Javid leaves from 10 Downing Street in central London on December 8, 2021. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced intense pressure Wednesday after a video emerged of his senior aides joking about holding a Christmas party at Downing Street last year when social gatherings were banned under Covid-19 rules. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Sajid Javid announced some new funding to help care homes weather the storm expected over the coming months (Picture: AFP)

‘As we’ve seen from NHS England data released this week, a quarter of care home residents are still waiting for their booster vaccination despite promises that all residents would receive theirs by 1 November. 

‘We’re concerned that these suggested plans are being used as a crude sticking plaster due to the failure to meet this vital target.’

The government is ramping up the booster rollout to care home staff and residents and extra funding has been made available to boost pay and fund overtime in the sector until the end of March.

Health secretary Sajid Javid said: ‘Throughout the pandemic we have done everything we can to protect the adult social care sector, and the emergence of the Omicron variant means this is more important than ever.

‘This new funding will support our incredible workforce by recruiting new staff and rewarding those who have done so much during this pandemic.

‘Boosting the booster rollout in social care and updating the visiting guidance will help keep the most vulnerable people in our society safe from the virus this winter.’

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at veloxnews1@gmail.com

For more stories like this, check our news page.

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