In response to the government issuing new guidance around visiting in care homes, and visiting out of care homes that will be applied as the country leaves national lockdown, Vic Rayner, Executive Director at the National Care Forum (NCF) – the leading member association for not-for-profit social care providers said:
“It is really positive that the government has reiterated that visiting should be the default position in care homes. This is absolutely the position that we have been campaigning for, and one that we applaud. This comes alongside the similarly welcomed commitment to roll out rapid testing to all care homes before Christmas. This is a game changing moment for visits, and one that the NCF recognises will be broadly embraced across the country by care home residents, their loved ones and providers.
“However, as ever, recognising the requirements and support needed to enable the sector to put this visiting policy into practice remains an inherent weakness. The scale of the testing commitments is substantial, with an expectation that testing should be available for every resident to have twice weekly testing for up to two visitors per week. NCF analysis suggests that addressing all the testing commitments for care homes outlined by the winter plan will require an additional 3.6 million hours of care staff time, currently with no additional resource to deliver this. It is essential that the government addresses this immediately, or else risks setting in train huge expectations around visiting, with no meaningful ability for care homes to deliver at the scale and pace required to make visiting a reality for all by Christmas.
“The government has also published long awaited guidance around the arrangements for ‘visiting out’ of care homes. The guidance sets out significant strictures and responsibilities for the delivery of this policy, for those living in care homes, their families and care providers, which in reality will mean that at this moment in time, the ability to use this may be limited. The policy intention of this is definitely positive, but the work that will go into making this a reality for individuals has not been recognised or addressed. Overall, the guidance around visiting is largely ‘on the money’ – but without the money!”