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03/09/20 17:40

Health and well-being visits to care homes to resume

Safe and phased return of visitors who improve quality of life.

Professional health and social care services which improve and enrich the wellbeing of care home residents will be able to resume visits under new guidelines.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare services have continued to operate in care homes for pressing clinical reasons, however non-essential visits have been paused.

New guidance outlines how from 7 September care homes can resume face-to-face care from a wide range of health and social care professionals, including podiatrists, physiotherapists, optometrists, dentists, social workers and mental health and disability specialists. 

The guidance also makes recommendations for the safe resumption of activity in indoor communal areas – for example lounges and dining areas – as long as strict health and safety measures are in place.

The guidance recommends that enhanced visiting is only resumed in care homes where there are no active cases, have been free of COVID-19 for 28 days, and are actively participating in the care home worker testing programme. 

Care homes should update their visiting risk assessments to fully consider the safe resumption of visits by health and social care professionals, which will then be approved by the local Director of Public Health.

In addition, the guidance recommends these visits only for care homes which have sufficient PPE and hand hygiene facilities, infection prevention and control protocols, a visitor protocol and visitor log, and resident consent.

Care homes have been supporting residents to receive three outdoor visitors from no more than two households, provided their home meets strict criteria, since 10 August. 

Since 24 August providers can also safely allow one designated indoor visitor for residents within their homes, once their plans have been signed off by the relevant health board’s Director of Public Health.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said:

“This has been, and continues to be, a very challenging time for care home residents, their families and staff – but we are always aware that care homes are first and foremost people’s homes.

“The safe and phased resumption of visits will not only allow the residents of care homes to have access to a wide range of additional health services, but also experience more personal contact, face to face meetings and interactions which will enrich their daily lives.

“The importance of involving a wide range of professional and people in the life of the care home and the impact this has on the wellbeing of residents is well known – and many clinical health and care professionals who visit care homes have already provided support and care to residents in different ways during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are committed to reintroducing measures that allow residents to connect with not only with the full range of health and social care professionals, but also those who enhance and enrich the quality of life for those who live there.”

Background

An independent review of adult social care is a commitment of the Programme for Government.

The guidance for care homes can now be read online.

The guidance includes advice for hairdressers, beauticians and complementary therapists visiting care homes, as well as volunteers such as drivers, pet therapists, church, school and volunteer organisations, musicians and artists - but a date for the resumption of these services has not been confirmed.

The new guidance should be used in conjunction with the National Clinical and Practice Guidance for Adult Care Homes in Scotland during the COVID-19 Pandemic, found here, as well as the Visiting Guidance for Adult Care Homes in Scotland (which can be found here).

Relaxation of lockdown restrictions and resumption of communal activity should take place only when care homes are declared free of all Covid-19 cases by local health protection teams 28 days from last date of positive test result or, where appropriate, the last symptoms of any resident or staff member. 

Care homes should also be participating in testing programmes, including routine weekly testing of care staff, and have enough space to ensure residents can maintain a physical distance of two metres from each other in communal areas.