Up to five named visitors and ‘greater freedoms’ for England’s care home residents

Care home residents in England will be able to have up to five named visitors, and will no longer have to self-isolate for 14 days after leaving the home to attend medical appointments.

The changes come into effect from next Monday, when the country enters the third stage of its road map for easing coronavirus restrictions.

Boris Johnson said the number of visitors would increase from two to five per resident.

Guidance from the Cabinet Office says a maximum of two visitors can visit a resident at any one time.

These daily limits do not apply for very young children or essential care givers.

And residents will be able to leave their care home for more trips without needing to isolate for 14 days on their return.

They will be able to visit hospitals as outpatients, GPs, dentists and day centres as well as workplaces and educational settings without needing to self-isolate after.

Following any overnight stay, including an overnight hospital visit, residents will still be required to isolate for 14 days.

Residents will be advised to take a Covid test prior to leaving the facility.

Adults who become a resident of a care home will also need to isolate from other residents for 14 days.

Mr Johnson told the Downing Street press conference: “We will increase the number of named visitors for those in care homes from two to five, and residents will have greater freedoms to leave their home without having to isolate on their return.”

In addition, care homes where there has been an outbreak will only need to close to visitors for 14 days rather than 28, as is currently the case.

An outbreak will be declared over 14 days after the last positive case and once all residents and staff have tested negative, assuming there are no variants of concern.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said updated guidance will be published shortly.

It will be kept under review with a view to removing further restrictions as soon as possible, the DHSC said.

Minister for Care Helen Whately (pictured) said: “The measures we have taken during this pandemic have always been to protect our most vulnerable, but I have heard first-hand from those living and working in care homes how difficult the restrictions have been.

“Thanks to the phenomenal success of the vaccine rollout and a reduction in cases across the country, I am pleased we can now take another step towards getting back to normal, while protecting those in care homes from the continued risk of Covid-19.

“The new guidance allows more family and friends to reunite and reduces the need to self-isolate, which I know many have found incredibly challenging.

“As we turn the tide on this cruel virus I want to make visiting as normal as possible by the summer, and this is an important step on that path.”

Thanking social care staff, chairman of the Adult Social Care Covid-19 Taskforce Sir David Pearson said: “This is a significant step on the road to normality for so many.

“We are only able to increase visits in and out of care homes thanks to the hard work of social care staff maintaining good infection prevention and control, and the effect of the vaccines in driving down transmission.”

Helen Wildbore, director of the Relatives & Residents Association, welcomed the changes but said they are “baby steps” as the rest of society emerges from lockdown.

She said: “Some of the changes are not even steps forward at all, but merely bring an end to terrible policies which have been imposed only on care users, like dropping the two-week quarantine after medical appointments, which has prevented many older people in care from accessing vital healthcare.

“We urgently need a strategy from the Government for re-opening care homes to stop residents being left behind.”

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