Care home providers reveal ‘immense frustration’ over lack of guidance on resuming visits

Care providers are “at a loss” to know why they have not received guidance from the Government on how loved ones can safely resume visiting care home residents and other care recipients.

Care England, the country’s largest representative body for independent providers of adult social care, noted with “immense frustration” a delay in updated visitor guidance for the country.

It says this should have been a priority for the Government, as lockdown measures are eased.

The latest guidance on care home residents’ admission and care on the Government website, last updated on June 19, reads: “We are reviewing our policy on visitors and are looking to update our guidance shortly.”

Chief executive Professor Martin Green said: “We are at a loss to know why the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is incapable of making swift decisions at a time of crisis.

“As the country unlocks, care providers are in the dark as to what is permissible in terms of visitors to their residents, or indeed residents leaving their homes on visits.

“This should have been a priority for the DHSC given that care homes are central to fighting this dreadful pandemic”.

Care England produced its own document for members on visiting learning disability providers on June 10.

And it supported a visitors protocol for residential care providers produced by the Care Provider Alliance on June 19.

Prof Green added: “However with new changes to shielding and the wider lifting of lockdown we now need a national framework led by Government to support the complex steps to normality for care home residents.”

The Scottish Government published guidance on phasing in the reintroduction of visits to care homes on July 3.

It is understood that in the absence of Government guidance, some care homes in England have, since June, started allowing socially-distanced visits in outdoor areas if the care home has been free from Covid-19 for a certain period.

Vic Rayner, executive director of the National Care Forum, said: “As the country emerges from lockdown and pubs, cafes and even libraries start to welcome people back, there are a group of forgotten people.

“In a society where we have worked harder to produce guidance on accessing the latest page turner than we have to reunite people safely with their loved ones, we have got something very wrong.

“We call on the Government to publish clear and coherent guidance that will provide families, people receiving care and the workforce with the assurances that they need to get people back together.”

Helen Wildbore, director of the Relatives and Residents Association, said: “There is an urgent need for a strategy from Government on safely opening up care homes.

“Many callers to our helpline feel forgotten and frustrated by the lack of guidance, and are desperate to provide much-needed support to their relatives.

“As the rest of the country emerges from lockdown, older people receiving care cannot be left behind once again.”

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