The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has urged care home providers to follow government guidance on care home visits following the January lifting of restrictions.
In a statement the CQC said it expects care homes to ensure visiting is unrestricted and vowed to follow up on instances where this may not be taking place.
Over the course of the pandemic many people who live in care homes will have faced exceptionally difficult circumstances, being unable to be with the people they love, and it has often been hard for loved ones unable to visit or spend important time with them while homes have limited or restricted visitors.
The Department of Health and Social Care released new guidance on the 31 January 2022 lifting visiting restrictions in care homes, and the CQC says that “expectation remains that care homes follow government guidance – which is now to ensure visiting is unrestricted and we will follow up in instances where we are made aware that this may not be happening.”
The CQC also adds that it has continued to investigate concerns about providers not following government guidance on visiting, and is continuing to monitor providers where they have information regarding concerns about visiting.
From 1 December 2021 we have received visiting concerns regarding 189 services, of which 82 were allegations of blanket bans. We have reviewed every concern raised with us and taken action where needed, including following up with providers, inspecting, raising safeguarding alerts where applicable and following up with local authorities.
Kate Terroni, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at CQC said:
“The pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on many people and we know it has been particularly difficult for those who are living in care homes and their families and loved ones. It is so important that people are able to spend crucial time with the people they love.
“We have taken decisive action throughout the pandemic to help keep people safe in care settings including undertaking over 12,000 inspections, and making absolutely clear to providers that not following government guidance is unacceptable and may trigger an inspection. Where concerns have been raised with us in relation to visiting we have, taken a range of action, including following up with providers, inspecting, taking regulatory action and where applicable, raising safeguarding alerts with local authorities.
“We continue to seek assurances from care home providers about how they are supporting visiting to happen and we are verifying this information when we go out and inspect and will continue to do so. We have introduced a mandatory question on each of our care home inspections which looks at how visiting is being supported to happen in a safe way.”
As part of its updated monitoring approach, the CQC is asking providers how they are facilitating visits to people living at the home in accordance with current care home visiting guidance, or where this is not possible, what the reasons are for this, and how they are enabling other forms of contact.
If you, a loved one or someone you care for would like to raise a concern about visiting in registered care locations, or about any other matter involving a person’s care, you can let us know by filling out our Give feedback on care form, or call our contact centre on 03000 616161.