Care home residents will be allowed to see relatives and friends again as the Government prepares to lift the ban on visits after three-and-a-half months.
Matt Hancock said on Thursday that “Covid-secure visiting” will resume in England shortly in a bid to relieve the isolation felt by many elderly and vulnerable people living in care homes.
With fatalities attributed to the coronavirus falling significantly the Health Secretary said the ban on visits is ‘coming to an end very soon’.
The details on how care homes in England can operate safe Covid-secure visits are expected to be released in coming days.
Speaking in a TV interview Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘People are yearning to see their loved ones and the residents of care homes get so much from visitors.
‘It’s been a very, very long period and that period where there hasn’t been any visiting to care homes, that’s coming to an end very soon.
‘I very much hope that in the next few days we’ll be able to make this change. We’ve been very careful about it and we’ve got to get it right. ‘We’ve got to make sure it works for each local area but I hope we can make that change very soon.’
Responding to the Health Secretary’s announcement, Prof Martin Green chief executive of Care England, speaking on radio 4 said: ‘Families are a really important part of care delivery but at the same time you have to be really, really cautious because, as people know, care homes have been really badly affected during this pandemic.
‘People living in care homes are probably at the highest risk, so if there is an outbreak of Covid-19, it has serious and very tragic consequences so I think we have to balance the need for people to engage with their relatives and families but also we have a responsibility for the protection and safety of the people in care homes.
‘I think treating people as key workers, making sure there is regular testing available – also with some new tests that might be available shortly which are going to be much quicker to get results, that may also help.’