Care homes in Wales will not be returning to the pre-covid “open house” approach after visiting restrictions were eased by the Welsh Government.
That’s the warning from Care Forum Wales chief executive Mary Wimbury who sounded a note of caution saying that all visits would still need to be risk assessed before they were allowed go ahead.
Ms Wimbury said it was still a challenging time for the social care sector and some care homes would be more nervous than other.
One major stumbling block was the fact that insurance companies were now refusing to provide cover for any Covid-related claims.
Previously only two designated visitors were allowed to make indoor visits but now any two people can visit.
But according to the Welsh Government it is still down to individual care homes or local authorities to make the final decisions whether to allow the visits to go ahead.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said the changes would “improve the quality of life for residents and their families”.
Ms Wimbury said: “It’s clear in the guidance that care homes do have to risk assess visiting, taking into account the lack of insurance cover but also the setting in terms of the lay-out in different care homes.
“We are certainly not back to the pre-pandemic situation where you could have an open house and visitors coming in when they chose.
“Visitors will have to book in and be tested and care home staff are going to have to make sure they understand the rules. It isn’t as straightforward as some people think.
“Having said that, we’re all really pleased that we’re moving to something that’s a bit more like things were before the pandemic.
“We’ve got to listen to scientists in terms of what they are saying and we’re all delighted that we do seem to be moving in the right direction.
“At the same time we also have recognised the potential danger posed by the Indian variant that’s out there as well as the potential for a third wave of the virus.
“We all want to see more friends and relatives connecting with care home residents but we also want to keep people safe.
“Care home staff have done an incredible job over the past year or so in doing everything they can to keep spirits up, providing support and entertainment that was previously provided by visitors.
“We would all like to thank them for their efforts in keeping people’s mental health in the best place possible.
“Trips out are now also allowed in the current guidance but obviously that also has to risk assessed, taking into account what they are doing when they’re out and that people understand the need to maintain social distance.
“That is happening already but it’s not as easy as it was pre-pandemic.”