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Providers call for caution over care home visits

Anxious care providers have given an extremely cautious welcome to a Government announcement that visits can begin again in care and nursing homes following Covid-10 lockdowns.

The Government has announced that care home residents could have one named visitor from 8 March and that they would be able to hold hands. The visitor would have to wear personal protective equipment (PPE).
Provider organisation The Independent Care Group (ICG) gave an “extremely cautious” welcome to the Government’s announcement.

It called for greater clarification on details of the announcement and urged providers to take care.
ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “Care providers are very keen to enable residents to enjoy visits from their relatives once again as they have been kept apart for too long.

“But we must sound a note of caution because Covid-19 hasn’t gone away and we are caring for the most vulnerable and most susceptible to it, as the figures show.

“We need some clarification – for example, the announcement says holding hands will be allowed but warns against ‘close contact’. How is that going to be possible? There is going to have to be some very close but compassionate supervision of these visits.

“In truth, we might have preferred a more phased return to visiting with maybe a period of no contact visits followed by some careful contact.”

“We would also be slightly concerned that this is being introduced at the same time that schools return, which we are being warned could lead to an increase in infections again. Is it right to do these two things together?

“Plus, many residents will not have had their second vaccine, many visitors will not have had any vaccines at all and there are concerns about the accuracy of lateral flow tests.

“All in all, we know that people desperately want to reunite residents with their families, but we have to be extremely cautious.

“These are very vulnerable people and Covid-19 has claimed the lives of more than 28,000 of them in the past year.

“I would still urge care providers to work with their local health professionals and local councils to ensure they proceed with care.”

The ICG said it was also concerned about the extra costs the new visits would create and called on the Government to provide more support.

“The new visiting regime is going to entail a lot of hard work and extra staffing. With the current infection control fund coming to an end next month, we must have more support to help make this visiting work,” Mr Padgham added.

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