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Visiting Care Homes During Covid

We know that during the Covid 19 pandemic it can be very worrying and upsetting if you have a relative or friend in a care home who you are unable to see. Care homes do have a responsibility to keep their residents safe and reduce the risk of infection, but as visitors, there is also guidance around visiting people in care homes that we want you to be aware of.

The government has issued guidance around visiting arrangements for care homes which you can find here.

If you have a relative or friend living in supported living, you can find guidance about this here.

The Government Guidance states that:

“The first priority is making sure those in care homes receive the care and support they need. That includes making sure that residents are not put at avoidable risk of contracting COVID-19, which can have such a devastating impact if it spreads through a care home, infecting vulnerable residents and potentially care staff

The guidance also recognises that receiving visitors is an important part of care home life. Maintaining some opportunities for visiting to take place is critical for supporting the health and wellbeing of residents and their relationships with friends and family.

Therefore, in order for visits to happen, the provider needs to assess and balance the risk of local prevalence and the ability of the care home to manage the visit safely. This dynamic risk assessment must formally take into account the advice of the local Department of Public Health.”

The guidance states that where it has been identified that harm will take place if someone has a lack of visitors, then it should be considered whether visiting can safely take place. Each resident in this case should have a risk assessment which identifies how they could safely meet visitors, using the lowest risk method possible. This might be seeing someone through a window for example, or in an isolated room.

A care home or supported living setting cannot make a blanket decision that no-one will receive any visitors. This is in opposition to a person’s human rights. They should have a visiting policy which clearly sets out the processes they are taking. If you are concerned that a care home or supported living setting is preventing a resident from accessing visitors, you can take the following steps:

  1. Ask for the reason as to why someone cannot have visits, and a copy of the home’s visiting policy. The reason might be based on the high risk to the person from contracting Covid 19 versus a lower risk from not having visitors. However alternative arrangements should be able to put in place such as a regular video or phone call.
  2. Check the resident has a risk assessment in place and ask for the outcome of the risk assessment and why the risk can’t be minimised. If a home have identified a resident cannot have visitors, a risk assessment should support this by highlighting the risk is too high for the resident and there are no ways to minimise this risk. This should be in line with the home's visiting policy.
  3. Raise an informal complaint with the home in the first instance – explain why you feel the resident should have a visitor, and ask for a discussion about how visits could be safely facilitated.
  4. If you feel that this is still not resolved, ask for a copy of the home’s formal complaint process and follow it. You can also contact the Care Quality Commission if you feel that the home has not followed the government guidance. “