New Government guidelines on enabling residents in care and nursing homes to have visits from family and friends do not solve the problem, care providers warned today.
The Government today said homes should use visiting pods, screens, and windows or outside and online visiting.
The Independent Care Group (ICG) welcomed the Government guidance as evidence that it was addressing the issue.
But it said the guidance did not go far enough and called for the Government to:
- urgently allow negative-tested family and friends to visit residents properly
- provide extra funding to enable providers to safely reintroduce visiting
- indemnify care providers against legal action over Covid-19 deaths.
ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “We are pleased that the Government has recognised that visiting is an issue, but these guidelines do not take us much further than we already are.
“We know what needs to be done: enable a designated relative or friend to be regarded as a keyworker and have regular tests so that they can visit properly.”
The ICG says Government suggestions for pods and screens will have huge financial implications for providers but with no extra support on the table. It is also dismayed that the Government has not agreed to indemnify care providers against legal action over people who die from Covid-19 in care settings. NHS care providers are indemnified.
The Government says it is working on a plan to enable tested relatives to visit and will introduce a pilot scheme later this month.
But Mr Padgham says the time for a pilot has passed and the Government should skip straight to introducing the scheme.
“Our residents and their relatives have waited long enough. The mental health and happiness of residents is suffering – particularly those with dementia. We have a solution; we need to get on with it this week,” he added.
Care England has called for greater clarity around DHSC’s revised position on care home visiting.
Professor Martin Green, Chief Executive of Care England, says:
“There is a continued importance of balancing safety with well being and Care England awaits further details from the DHSC on its latest guidance for care homes for older people and those for younger adults. Care providers cannot prepare overnight, they need time, assurance and confidence in the guidance. Moreover any new protocol needs to include indemnity for care providers”.
Care England is looking for reassurance that the DHSC will be working intensively over the next few weeks to ensure that a robust visiting policy is in place once lockdown has been lifted.
Martin Green continues: “We sent the Secretary of State some visiting principles last month and hope that they will be taken into account when the fuller guidance is issued. We anticipate that visiting will remain a prevalent topic at our conference next week; we have many unanswered questions. We are really upset that a proper policy has not been published in time when a second lockdown was always on the cards”.