Need to nominate one relative to be a safe visitor
Care providers have written to the Government calling for a single, nominated, and tested visitor to be allowed to visit a family member in care and nursing homes.
The Independent Care Group (ICG) also wants an end to the confusion over visiting which is putting too much pressure on home managers.
And it wants the Government to cut out the bureaucracy that is preventing the latest Infection Control Fund money reaching the front line of care.
ICG Chair Mike Padgham says in a letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock: “Many older and vulnerable people have now been in lockdown for seven months, with very little or no contact with their loved ones.
“This is having a detrimental effect on the mental wellbeing of those residents and their families. It is particularly debilitating for those with dementia, for whom the separation has been especially damaging. It cannot go on.”
Mr Padgham said: “We cannot keep residents in lockdown for ever – we have to find a way to reunite them with their families and today we are calling on the Government to take action.
“We can have a nominated family member who could be tested. Once the result was known and provided they were clear they could then visit their loved one.”
He also called for an end to the confusion surrounding visiting and the situation where different local authorities were giving different guidance.
“We need a firm decision,” he said. “At the moment, some local authorities are saying it is okay for homes to allow visiting and others are advising against. In all cases it is only guidance, which puts the final decision on registered managers. It shouldn’t be left to managers, who are already suffering severe pressure, to take this decision – we have to have a clear instruction from the Government, as they have with the six people limit, for example.”
The Government has promised a visiting guide for care and nursing homes, but that has yet to appear.
Some weeks ago, the Government announced a second Infection Control Fund of £546m to support care providers in fighting the pandemic, which was welcomed by the ICG. However, there are concerns about the fund reaching the front line.
Vic Rayner, Executive Director of the National Care Forum, has warned that the allocation of the fund has become mired in costly bureaucracy.
Mr Padgham added: “It is unfair that social care providers have to jump through so many hoops to get access to this vital funding – businesses didn’t face such bureaucracy when they were getting financial help.
“We need this support urgently as the second wave of coronavirus gathers pace.”
The ICG says the country needs a clearer message over lockdown, rather than the piecemeal arrangements that are being set up. There is also the added complication of whether figures on Covid-19 infections are accurate and can be trusted.
Mr Padgham added: “In my view, the picture is getting more and more confusing by the day. Given the information that has come out in the past 24 hours, can we rely on the figures we are being told about Covid-19? Are we going to have a full lockdown for a short period to try to nip this in the bud or are we going to continue with the piecemeal geographical lockdowns that I feel are causing more confusion than good?
“We need some clarity. If the Government announces a short total lockdown, then that will make it even more vital that we can facilitate a way for our residents to be able to see their loved ones.”