Care home visiting January 2022
With restrictions being eased in some situations but maintained in others, it’s difficult to get to the facts of how care home visiting is now being controlled as we enter 2022 in the UK.
Here are the latest guidelines that can help. It’s worth revisiting them from time to time or whenever you are concerned about the rules being applied at your relative’s care home.
Updated on 31 December 2021, the UK guidance for residential care home visiting in England is a very useful document which stresses the importance of allowing visitors if at all possible.
The status of ‘essential caregiver’ is a fairly new introduction, but could be invaluable in enabling a family member to visit a resident regularly. It does depend on the care home understanding the role and cooperating with families, and sadly there are many reports that homes are not awarding this status for a variety of reasons. The role of essential caregiver and the expectations of the care home for in-home visits and going out are also outlined in the guidance.
Where things can get tricky for visitors is when there is an outbreak of coronavirus in the home. Then most visitors will be asked not to attend. How long this lasts depends not just on the care home, but also on the advice of the local public health team. Some care homes are talking about the shutdowns being enforced in the current outbreak as too draconian given the apparent mildness of the latest variant.
Meanwhile care homes are experiencing staff shortages both in the long term and as a result of the rapidly spreading Omicron Coronavirus, which is making facilitating visits difficult to manage, regardless of the guidance.
Last updated on 17 December 2021 are the following documents from the Welsh Assembly, which you may find useful.
- Information on visiting residential care homes
- Guidance for care home providers on visiting and going out
The chair of Care Forum Wales has declared that care homes are almost on a ‘war footing’, due to the number of staff who are away from work due tohaving the Coronavirus or self-isolating.
The Scottish government has curated its various advice documents around care home visiting in its Open with Care guidance.
The Department of Health in Northern Ireland is working to a plan called ‘Visiting With Care – A Pathway’, which is part of its larger ‘A Pathway to Enhanced Visiting’, which looks at visiting in all care settings.
Where to turn for help
If you would like to share experiences with other families, take a look at the Rights for Residents group on Facebook. They are a very active group that support each other, answer questions and offer resources to find further information. While focusing mostly on England, the group also takes an interest across other countries within the UK.
You can also report concerns to the Care Quality Commission in England and the Care Inspectorate in Scotland.
Other information providers who might be helpful include AgeUK, the Alzheimer’s Society, and local authorities.
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