Care home residents across Cheshire to be allowed one visitor as part of cautious easing of lockdown

5 March 2021

From Monday, 8 March care home residents across Cheshire West and Chester will be able to be visited indoors by a single, named individual.

The Department for Health and Social Care has announced that under the ease in restrictions the designated visitor will be able to hold hands indoors with their relative and make repeat visits under carefully designed conditions to keep residents, staff and visitors safe.

Every resident will have the opportunity to name one individual, who will be required to follow all infection prevention and control measures including having a lateral flow test beforehand, wearing PPE during the visit and avoiding close contact.

Residents with the highest care needs will also be able to nominate an essential care giver who may be the single named visitor or an additional care giver. For some residents a visit with a greater degree of personal care - such as help dressing, eating or washing, may be central to maintaining their immediate health and wellbeing. In such cases, with the agreement of the care home, this visitor will be enabled and supported to provide this care and they will be able to visit more often. They will have access to the same PCR and rapid lateral flow testing and PPE arrangements as a member of care home staff.

Outdoor, pod and screen visits will be able to continue in line with the published guidance which has been in place during lockdown.  This means there will be chances for residents to see more than just the one person they nominate.

Summary of changes:
  • The person nominated (named visitor) will remain unchanged while the cautious easing of restrictions is in place.
  • There will be discretion for care homes to allow more than one named visitor in exceptional circumstances.
  • Home testing of single, named visitors will not be allowed during the start of the scheme but will be reviewed. Tests will be provided to visitors upon arrival at the care home.
  • Hand-holding is allowed but named visitors will be asked to avoid any closer contact such as hugging.
  • Vaccination is not mandatory and will not be a condition of visiting, however, it is strongly recommended that all visitors and residents take up the opportunity to be vaccinated when they are invited to do so through the national programme.
  • In terms of visiting outside, the rules and guidance will remain unchanged at this stage.
Visiting will be suspended during local outbreaks in individual homes. Further guidance can be found here.

Councillor Val Armstrong, Cabinet "This ease in restrictions is really positive news, however we still need to remain cautious. We are asking families, friends, and carers to work with our care providers to support them through these challenging times.

"Whilst the new government guidance is very much welcomed we are conscious that care providers across the borough will be faced with the very real challenge of how to facilitate this vital contact whilst reducing the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to clinically extremely vulnerable service users and social care staff.

"We know how important the contact with friends, families and carers is for the physical and emotional wellbeing of our loved ones. The Council is working closely with care providers to ensure visiting is supported and enabled wherever it is possible to do so safely."

Care homes not experiencing an outbreak will be asked to follow the updated guidance and continue to work together with families and local professionals to ensure visits are possible while continuing to limit the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

The Council webpage with links to the national guidance can be found here: www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/visitcarehomes

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