Care providers say protective face masks must remain where older and vulnerable people are being looked after even after lockdown restrictions are completely lifted.
And they are also worried about the impact of a ‘free for all’ if all restrictions on visiting in care and nursing homes are lifted alongside other renewed freedoms.
The Independent Care Group (ICG) said the threat to older and vulnerable people of all ages had not gone away even though the Prime Minister has announced that Freedom Day will be on 19th July.
ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “Everyone wants to get life back to normal, but as the Prime Minister said at the start of his announcement, we are ‘very far from the end of dealing with this virus’.
“Cases are still rising and those people of all ages being looked after in care and nursing homes, as well as in their own homes, remain the most vulnerable to Covid-19.
“I would therefore say that masks should remain compulsory for all those working in and visiting care settings for the foreseeable future.
“I also believe that care settings have to remain vigilant and careful around visiting and not let it become a free for all.
“In case people need reminding, we have lost 32,000 people in care and nursing homes to Covid-19 – we don’t want to lose any more mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles or friends.
“Yes, we welcome a return to some freedoms but believe me, nobody in the social care sector is demob happy quite yet.”
Kathryn Smith, Chief Executive of the Social Care Institute for Excellence says:
“For many I’m sure that this will be seen as great news, for both those living in care homes who are desperate to see their friends and relatives, and of course those friends and relatives. It is the news that many have waited 16 months for and it is absolutely right that people living in care homes are afforded the same rights as everyone else in the community. However, it is still important to recognise that where people live in a communal setting it is never straightforward, and so we must respect the views of individual residents, family members and staff, who might be nervous of such a change so quickly.
Many will want to see a continuation of social distancing, for instance, as well as perhaps choosing to continue with personal protective equipment such as masks. But, it is positive that we can see an end to some of the isolation people living in care homes have been feeling, and we can now hopefully look forward to putting the worst of Covid-19 behind us and securing the reform in care and support that is such a big issue at the top of the political agenda”.