Long-awaited changes which give more freedom to residents in care and nursing homes have been welcomed as “steps towards normality”.
The Government has said care home residents can now leave their homes for trips out provided they spend 14 days in isolation on their return.
And from Monday the number of visitors they can have will double to two and in addition they will be able to have small children visit too.
Provider organisation the Independent Care Group (ICG) said the changes were welcome but called on the Government to moderate its demand for 14 days’ isolation.
ICG Chair Mike Padgham: “These changes will bring great benefits to people in care and nursing homes and to their families. They are welcome steps towards normality and provided they are handled with care will bring a lot of pleasure.
“But I do believe the need for 14 days’ isolation in all cases after a trip out is excessive.
“Yes, if a group of people are mixing with others during an outing, then some form of isolation might be necessary to mitigate any risk of Covid-19 being spread in a home of vulnerable people.
“But where a group of people go out together, in a minibus for example, don’t mix with anyone other than each other, who they live with all day every day, then it does seem to me that isolation, particularly for such a long period, might be unnecessary.
“I think the Government should give homes the flexibility to judge each case on its merits and decide what level of isolation is needed following a trip out, otherwise there is a risk that it might not be worth doing.”
The ICG was also conscious that the overall risk from Covid-19 had not gone away.
“Of course, in all of these things we must proceed with care, follow all the guidance on masks, social distancing, PPE and good hygiene,” Mr Padgham added.
“All relaxation of restrictions does bring with it risk, but we have to balance that risk with the benefits these changes can bring. Our message is: ‘proceed with caution’ adhere to the guidance and let’s enjoy a little freedom but still keep each other safe.”