R&RA Calls for ‘Urgent’ Implementation of Updated COVID Guidance

The COVID guidance for social care has finally been updated, which integrates many of the changes called for back in April by the Relatives & Residents Association (R&RA) on visiting.

The changes include:

• The ‘one visitor’ rule during outbreaks/isolation periods is now clear that this means one at a time (not just one named person)
• The one visitor at a time rule must now be ‘flexible’ to allow for visitors to be accompanied if they need support or for children to visit
• During an outbreak, any changes to visiting must be proportionate and risk based
• There is now flexibility in visitors wearing face masks: they can be removed where they hinder communication or when a visitor is eating/drinking

A spokesperson for R &RA said:

“When we called for these changes in April, we knew they had the potential to have a huge impact on older people’s lives. Strict rules on face masks are preventing families from sharing a drink or meal together – something so simple that brings joy and can make life feel ‘normal’ again. Our helpline continues to hear of the distress and confusion face coverings cause for older people, particularly those with hearing impairments or dementia, so flexibility and proportionate responses are key. That’s what the law has required all along.”

“With so many care homes in outbreak, our helpline was also hearing from families locked out as only one named visitor was permitted. Urgent clarity was needed on this. The Department of Health and Social Care told us in March when they introduced the ‘one visitor’ rule that it was intended to be ‘one at a time’, to help reduce the burden on relatives allowed in during outbreaks (as the named ‘essential caregiver’). R&RA has been calling for this to be clarified since April. That it has taken three months is baffling. This will have caused irreparable harm to older people and their families, kept apart by poor drafting.”
“These changes must now be urgently implemented by all care homes. For many providers, these changes are old news and they have already been doing all of this. For those that aren’t, we need the regulator to step up and make sure it happens. And we must enshrine in law a right to a Care Supporter to ensure no-one is left isolated again in health and care settings.”

“Whilst these small changes are welcome and long-overdue, there is a bigger picture here. Of people living in care being the only group left in society still subject to COVID restrictions whilst the rest of the country is completely back to normal. Living under rules that have had a hugely damaging impact on lives, relationships and wellbeing. As people who live apart from their families and coming to the end of their lives, they should have been the first to regain their freedoms, not the last.”

 

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