Visiting care homes in England from April 2022
Here’s a summary of the current guidance to care homes on visiting arrangement in England, applicable from 4 April 2022. The full text can be found in the ‘Covid-19 supplement to the infection prevention and control resource for adult social care’ published on 31 March. It’s worth checking this if you have a problem with visiting.
Many care homes are very keen to get regular visiting back on the agenda for their residents. If you are experiencing problems, you can talk to your local authority, report the home to the Care Quality Commission, or join a group such as Rights for Residents, which has numerous members who have already trodden the rights to visit path.
It will probably take some care homes longer than others to relax their approach, especially as the guidance is still a bit woolly in some areas. What is ‘appropriate PPE’ when visiting as a provider of personal care, for example?
Testing in the home
No more asymptomatic testing in homes, but if a manager suspects an outbreak, they will have to consult their local authority and/or health protection team as to whether all residents should be tested, or even the home closed to visitors.
Access inside the care home
The latest update states categorically that ‘Contact with relatives and friends is fundamental to care home residents’ health and wellbeing and visiting should be encouraged’. It even cites the European Convention on Human Rights on the right to private and family life.
The guidance to care homes is now therefore making it clear that there should not normally be any restrictions to visits into or out of the care home.
Importantly, where visiting is modified during an outbreak of COVID-19 or where a care home resident has confirmed COVID-19, every resident should be enabled to continue to receive one visitor inside the care home.
End-of-life visiting should always be supported, and testing is not required in any circumstances for an end-of-life visit.
Booking ahead is no longer a requirement, although you may find individual homes still trying to operate this system.
That said, as a visitor you are requested not to enter the care home if they have symptoms of a transmissible virus infection, such as a cough, high temperature, diarrhoea or vomiting, because other viruses can be just as dangerous to care home residents. This is the case even if you are fully vaccinated, and have tested negative for COVID-19. If you have any of these symptoms you are asked to stay away until at least 5 days after your symptoms clear up.
When you are visiting, you should wear a mask when moving around the home. Mask wearing has continued to be an issue for residents with challenges such as dementia or poor hearing, and face masks can be removed away from communal areas if they are causing distress to the resident.
Visitors providing personal care
If you are providing personal care to a care home resident you are expected to wear ‘appropriate PPE ‘and have a negative COVID-19 lateral flow test result from a lateral flow device. Care homes are supposed to be being provided with tests to support this.
If you attend once or twice a week, they should only test on that day, and testing can be carried out at home or on site. If you visit more than twice a week, you should test a maximum of twice weekly, 3 to 4 days apart.
If you are providing personal care, you need to show proof of your negative test result prior to entry. This could be an email or text from reporting the result, a date stamped photo of the test cartridge, or any other proof.
If you can’t to produce a negative test, you may be asked to reschedule. Care homes do not need to retain records of proof.
Trips outside the home
Care home residents will no longer be asked to isolate following high-risk visits out of the care home (including following emergency hospital stays) and will not be asked to take a test following a visit out.
Elsewhere in the UK
- Guidance on visiting care homes in Wales is already in place and is expected to remain valid until June 2022.
- Adult care homes visiting guidance is available for Scotland
- You can also find information about visiting care homes in Northern Ireland, dated end of March.
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