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What are the care home rules in lockdown 3 and can I visit relatives?

April Roach
·3-min read
<p>The guidance has changed for care home visits during the third lockdown</p> (PA)

The guidance has changed for care home visits during the third lockdown

(PA)

The Government’s guidance on visits to care homes has changed once again as England enters into a third national lockdown.

In a televised address on Monday evening, Boris Johnson urged people to “stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives”.

All schools and colleges in England will be closed until after the February half-term, except for children of key workers and the vulnerable.

The Prime Minister also told people to work from home unless it is impossible to do so.

Here we take a look at what the new guidance means for care home visits:

What does the guidance say?

Close-contact indoor visits in care homes will not be allowed to take place across England during the coronavirus lockdown.

But visits involving screens, pods and through windows will be able to go ahead, according to lockdown guidance published by the Cabinet Office on Monday evening.

This has been the case for care homes in Tier 4 areas up until now.

Care homes in areas with lower transmission rates have been able to use rapid result coronavirus tests to help them enable close-contact visits.

What about visits to care homes with confirmed outbreaks?

Care homes with outbreaks will not be able to receive visitors, the new guidance says.

However, visits under exceptional circumstances, such as end-of-life visits, will be able to continue in all circumstances.

The guidance also says that any residents leaving their care home for a visit to see friends and family will not be able to meet them indoors, for example in the family home.

What do care organisations say?

Vic Rayner, executive director of the National Care Forum, which represents not-for-profit providers, said: “The move away from close-contact visits is a terrible blow for residents across the country.

“However it is very important and positive that visiting remains firmly on the agenda and homes across the country will be working hard with loved ones to ensure wherever possible visits can continue.

“When we emerge from this lockdown it is imperative that we put care home residents’ needs at the top of our priority list and ensure meaningful visits can resume.”

Fiona Carragher, director of research and influencing at the Alzheimer’s Society, said many residents have still not been able to properly see or hug their loved ones.

The charity is calling for the Government to “act with compassion” and prioritise the safe continuation of meaningful visits.

She said: “After a dreadful year for people with dementia, worst hit by the virus, we are still having to stress that mental health plays as much of a role in people’s survival as physical.

“The large majority of people in care homes with dementia do not have time on their side. Contact with their families isn’t just for comfort but fundamental to their care – and most important of all, their reason for living.

“The Government must do everything it can to keep people in care homes safe from the virus, but must act with compassion to prioritise meaningful visits continuing in a safe way, allowing residents to have the one thing that matters most to them in their final days.”

Additional reporting by PA Media.

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