Families Will Be Able To Visit Relatives In Care Homes This Christmas
Families in the UK will be able to visit their relatives in care homes this Christmas and the government has sent more than one million tests out to providers in an attempt to make this as safe as possible.
People in all three of the coronavirus tiers will be able to pay a visit to their relatives, and visits are set to begin as early as tomorrow (2 December).
Family members will only be allowed to visit once they've provided a negative test, and Health Secretary Matt Hancock hopes that this move will help to readdress the balance between keeping the vulnerable safe, and providing them with the benefits that come with seeing their loved ones.
He said: "I know how difficult it has been for people in care homes and their families to be apart for so long.
"The separation has been painful but has protected residents and staff from this deadly virus.
"I'm so pleased we are now able to help reunite families and more safely allow people to have meaningful contact with their loved ones by Christmas.
"This news has been made possible by the unprecedented strides made in testing technology and capacity, as well as extra PPE supplies."
It will still be necessary for everyone to wear the appropriate PPE during these visits, as well as following other vital safety protocols, but the government has also agreed to provide another 46 million items of PPE to CQC registered homes in addition to stock that is already with them.
The number of test kits that have been supplied is based upon a model allowing two visits per resident, visiting twice per week.
It will be up to the care homes to organise the number of visits and the safety measures in place, whilst the whole process will remain under constant review as it goes on.
Visitors are reminded that all safety protocols and infection prevention and control measures should be followed, as well as minimising contact with relatives to reduce transmission risks.
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The Minister for Care, Helen Whately, added: "Covid-19 is a cruel virus that has torn families apart and denied so many the simple human pleasure of contact with a loved one, which means everything to so many living in care homes.
"My focus is on making sure good quality care can still be provided to everyone who needs it, while keeping carers and the people they look after safe.
"It is impossible to eliminate risk entirely, but now thanks to an enormous expansion of testing capacity and a huge delivery of free PPE we can help to more safely reunite families throughout December."
Some residents of care homes under 65 will be allowed to leave to join families in their homes, but only with a negative test and a period of self-isolation upon return.
However, they will only be allowed a one family bubble, rather than the nation three family rule between December 23 and December 27.
Anyone planning a visit who develops symptoms should immediately cancel.
Ian Trenholm, from the Care Quality Commission said: "Today's announcement from the Department of Health and Social will be welcomed by many families who will now be able to see their loved ones over Christmas and to care providers who will be secure in the knowledge they are keeping their residents safe.
"Person-centred care has never been more important and recognising that part of people's identity and wellbeing comes from their relationships is key. Being able to visit friends and family in person wherever possible is at the heart of this and that is why we have encouraged care providers to support visiting as best they can whilst keeping people safe.
"We are also delighted to be able to offer the additional assurance to care providers that our inspectors will be getting weekly testing for Covid-19, following the Department for Health and Social Care's decision to offer testing to key workers.
"It is vital we continue to work together to meet the continued challenges of the pandemic and keep people safe."
Featured Image Credit: PA
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