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Care home visiting Christmas 2021

After the many heartaches of Christmas 2020, families of relatives living in care homes will have been hoping for a more ‘normal’ approach to visiting this year.

Sadly, with the incredibly rapid spread of the latest variant of Covid-19, care homes are taking action again to protect their residents. Reactions are varied amongst homes, with some being charged with being over-zealous in keeping visiting to a minimum.

The Care Quality Commission, which oversees care homes in England, has said that it has been hearing reports of blanket bans on visiting in some homes and that it was ‘making absolutely clear to providers that blanket approaches to visiting are unacceptable and may trigger an inspection.’ In the CQC’s statement about visiting over the festive season, the organisation makes it clear that residents should be allowed to appoint an ‘essential caregiver’. Any homes not complying with the guidance will be investigated.

In Scotland, the Care Inspectorate said on 8 December: ‘We expect care homes to support normalised visiting during the festive season so that residents have meaningful contact with their family and friends’, adding that concern about the latest Omicron variant must be balanced with the human rights of the resident.

The campaigning group Rights for Residents is keeping a close eye on what is happening as care home react to the latest virus surge.

To help you understand what the current position is, here are some links to guidance and groups. Bear in mind that the situation is changing rapidly, so do keep checking on government advice. The word ‘guidance’ is key – ultimate decisions at least in England appear to be left to individual home owners.

So far many of the government websites haven’t been updated with any recent guidance.

Other information providers who might be helpful include AgeUK, the Alzheimer’s Society, and local authorities.

Photo by Eugene Zhyvchik on Unsplash

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