Read the new guidance
The government has now issued the new guidance to support visiting in care homes to coincide with the period of national restrictions beginning 5th November 2020.
This replaces previous guidance on visiting policies for care homes and the local visiting framework - Visiting arrangements in care homes framework V6.0 published on 15 October 2020 - Surrey, East and West Sussex and Brighton & Hove.
The new national guidance recognises the importance of maintaining opportunities for visiting to take place which is critical for supporting the health and wellbeing of residents and their relationships with friends and family.
It sets out measures that can be put in place to provide COVID-secure opportunities for families to meet and expects care home providers, families and local professionals to work together to find the right balance between the benefits of visiting, and the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to care staff and vulnerable residents.
The guidance identifies that the individual resident, their views, their needs and wellbeing are an important focus of decisions around visiting and all decisions around visiting should be taken in light of general legal obligations, such as those under the Equality Act 2010 and Human Rights Act 1998, as applicable. Providers must also have regard to the DHSC ethical framework for adult social care.
Importantly, visiting as residents approach the end of their lives continues to be recognised and visits in such exceptional circumstances such as end of life should continue in all circumstances.
In the event of an outbreak in a care home, the home should close to visitors, except in exceptional circumstances such as end of life.
These restrictions should continue until the outbreak has been brought under control and the care home has recovered – at this point visiting may be restarted but with the usual infection prevention and control measures and any enhancements required due to any risks identified following the recent outbreak.
The government are exploring the options for testing visitors to enable further visits and will review their overall approach to care home visiting when national restrictions come to an end.
The Director of Public Health will share any further national guidance and reissue an updated local care home visiting framework at the end of national restrictions, if appropriate.