The Government released its updated guidance on visiting arrangements in care homes yesterday, 4th March.

If you have a loved on in a care home in the UK, this is what that means for you.

Care home residents in England will be allowed one regular visitor, for indoor visits, from 8th March.

The scheme will allow a single named visitor to hold hands indoors with their relative; and make repeat visits under carefully designed conditions to keep residents, staff and visitors safe.

The named visitor will need to follow some important steps to reduce the risk of infection to the person they are visiting and to others in the home.

1. Take a rapid lateral flow test

The named visitor will need to take a rapid (lateral flow) test every time they visit. If the result is negative, the visit can go ahead.

  • The visitor will do the test when they arrive at the care home.
  • The care home will provide the test.

2. Wear PPE

Visitors will need to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) for the duration of these visits:

  • disposable gloves
  • a disposable plastic apron
  • a fluid-repellent (type IIR) surgical mask

The care home will provide these.

Visitors should follow all other infection prevention and control measures, such as maintaining social distancing when walking through the home.

If there is an outbreak in a care home the home will have to stop most visiting in order to keep everyone safe.

How to arrange to be a single named visitor

The care home will ask each resident who they would like their single named visitor to be.

You might like to talk with other family members and friends who might like to visit, and with your loved one who lives in the care home, about who would be the best person.

If the resident lacks the capacity to decide who they want their named visitor to be, the care home will speak with their family and friends so they can decide what to do between them.

What a single named visit allows

You will be able to come in for a regular indoor visit, sitting in the same room as your loved one, with no screen or anything between you.

The guidance suggests you avoid physical contact to avoid any risk of passing on the virus, but you may hold hands. Close contact like hugging should not happen.

How often you can visit, or how long you can stay for will vary from place to place, depending on what the care home decides they can do safely and comfortably.

Essential care giver

Some residents may have a care or support need that cannot easily be provided by care home staff, or not without causing distress.

This might be help with washing and dressing where the resident becomes distressed unless it is done by a loved one. Or where the resident is refusing to eat unless they do so with a loved one present.

The government is advising that care homes should offer the ‘essential care giver’ scheme for these types of situations.

These visitors will be able to visit more often in order to provide this essential care. They will have the same testing and PPE arrangements as care home staff.

How to arrange to be an essential care giver

If you think your loved one would benefit from this type of visit, you should speak to the care home.

Each resident’s situation and needs will be unique. So the exact arrangements will need to be agreed between the care home, the residents and their family and friends.

If it is helpful, a social worker can be asked to help in these conversations.

Start dates for visits

Care Homes are being asked to put these new arrangements in place from Monday 8 March.

This information was taken from the Government website. Click here for more information and to view all the guidance in full.