**Update: from 8 March 2021, the official guidance has changed to this.
- Each resident can have one chosen indoor visitor, but no hugging allowed. Relatives are objecting about this as residents and relatives need hugs! The visitor must have a COVID test before going in and show a negative result. This is a “lateral flow test” where you take a swab of your throat and nose, put it into water, test the drops and wait half an hour for the result. According to the rules, the visitor must keep to social distancing and wear PPE.
- In addition, residents are allowed one carer who can get tested and get PPE on a par with paid staff.
We have seen news that many care homes are not following the new rules.
Around 410,000 people over 65, mainly women, are care home residents. That figure is bound to be less following the horrific number of COVID deaths in care homes — thought to be a third of all COVID deaths. There have also been reports of non-COVID deaths of care home residents where older women were refused an ambulance to go to hospital. We have heard that around 40,000 disabled people under pension age live in care homes, of which around 23,000 are people with learning disabilities, although reliable statistics are not easy to find.
We support the Rights for Residents petition “Please let me hug my family before it’s too late!” for care home residents to have the visits we need, and for relatives and friends to be recognised as essential key workers — to get the COVID testing and personal protective equipment to enable visits.
The official guidance on care home visits is here
Women in John’s Campaign and others have been challenging the refusal of visits, including being able to take people out for a trip. They say that under the Equality Act, Human Rights Act and Care Act, there should not be a blanket ban on visits, instead each resident’s individual needs and how long they have gone without contact, should be considered. Relatives say that care home owners are giving the excuse that they can’t do anything until the government gives them insurance against anything bad happening as a consequences of visits.
Visit the Rights for Residents website here to find out how to get involved in the campaign.
HealthWatch letter to the government