Care providers have warned new visiting guidance issued by the government does not go far enough.
The new guidance, which is designed to enable care home visits during lockdown, was greeted with concern by providers.
Independent Care Group Chair Mike Padgham (pictured) said: “We are pleased that the Government has recognised that visiting is an issue, but these guidelines do not take us much further than we already are.”
Mike called on the government to urgently allow negative-tested family and friends to visit residents properly, provide extra funding to enable providers to safely reintroduce visiting and indemnify care providers against legal action over COVID-19 deaths.
The National Care Forum said it was “very concerned about the lack of meaningful guidance” and called on the government to “urgently clarify what these arrangements mean in practice”.
Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, added: “There is a continued importance of balancing safety with wellbeing and Care England awaits further details from the DHSC on its latest guidance for care homes for older people and those for younger adults. Care providers cannot prepare overnight, they need time, assurance and confidence in the guidance. Moreover, any new protocol needs to include indemnity for care providers. We are really upset that a proper policy has not been published in time when a second lockdown was always on the cards.”
The response came after the government’s announcement yesterday that all care home residents could receive visits from their family and friends in a COVID secure way through the use of social distancing and PPE.
The guidance encouraged care homes, especially those who haven’t allowed visits since March, to provide safe visiting opportunities using innovations such as floor to ceiling screens, visiting pods and window visits.
The government also revealed a programme to enable specific family and friend visits supported by testing will trial later this month.
Additionally, a new national programme for weekly testing of professionals who regularly visit care homes, including community nurses and physiotherapists, is also be rolled out in the coming weeks following a successful pilot in Cambridgeshire, Peterborough and Northamptonshire.
The government said it was working with providers to help families plan visits that minimise risks, including avoiding public transport, and maintain social distancing from other visiting families.
Care homes are also being encouraged to register visits on the NHS Track and Trace system with ad hoc visits discouraged.