The National Care Forum – the leading member association for not-for-profit social care providers – responds to the newly released guidance on ‘Visiting arrangements in care homes for the period of national restrictions’.
Vic Rayner, Executive Director of the National Care Forum (NCF) says:
“The NCF welcomes that the government has ultimately recognised the central role that visiting plays in care home life and the sentiment expressed in the guidance offers a positive steer towards visiting becoming more common place across the country.
“The guidance talks a good talk about how visiting can work in practice, outlining a more permissive approach than those in operation under tier 2 and tier 3, but offers nothing in the form of support to providers to make it happen at the scale and pace that relatives and residents both want and need. The expectations around indoor visiting are particularly challenging to put in place from a standing start, and local interpretation and flexibility needs to be applied to work within the parameters of the care home environment to make this happen, so that meaningful visiting becomes a possibility for all.
“It also needs to be made crystal clear to all, that the decision to run these visits or otherwise can still sit outside of the gift of the home and their residents. The guidance sets out a very cautious approach to visiting, much to the frustration of many. The stated criteria do everything to minimise risk as much as possible, however, despite this the government has left the door open to blanket bans, emphasising the power of Directors of Public Health to close services across an area and thereby instantaneously shut down visiting. It is imperative therefore that we work together at local and national level to ensure the visiting guidance is implemented in line with the policy ambition, that homes are and remain open for visits – or it will forever be known as the guidance that gives hope with one hand – and takes it away with the other.
“NCF will continue to work with a rapidly growing coalition committed to getting fully supported and meaningful visiting as the default position. We know that testing is a key element of this, and therefore the pilot of testing of visitors is needed now more than ever. Visits are so important to the people who live in care homes, their loved ones and those that run them.”