Every resident will be allowed one regular indoor visitor from 8 March.
Care home residents will be able to be visited indoors by a single, named individual from 8 March as part of the Prime Minister’s roadmap to ease lockdown restrictions.
The scheme will allow a single visitor to hold hands indoors with their relative or contact in a care home, 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 have a test beforehand, wear PPE during the visit and avoid close contact.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:
Restrictions on visits have been in place during national lockdown to protect vulnerable residents. While coronavirus cases remain high, the number of infections is falling. The UK’s vaccination programme has seen every care home resident offered a jab, with almost 17 million vaccinations carried out in total.
Outdoor, pod and screen visits will be able to continue in line with the published guidance which has been in place during lockdown, meaning there will be chances for residents to see more than just the one person they nominate.
The clinically led approach has been designed in partnership with the Deputy Chief Medical Officers and Public Health England and is the next step towards regular indoor visits resuming.
Minister for Care Helen Whately said:
All visitors will receive a lateral flow test and be required to follow all infection prevention and control measures.
These measures, based on the science, represent a balance between the risk of infections and the importance of visiting for the physical and mental wellbeing of residents and their families.
Professor Deborah Sturdy, chief nurse for adult social care, said:
Close-contact care will be restricted to visitors who provide assistance – such as help dressing, eating or washing – which is essential to the immediate health and wellbeing of a resident. Existing guidance already enables these visits under exceptional circumstances.
We are providing extra support for these carers by providing them with the same regular PCR testing regime and PPE arrangements as care home workers to further reduce the risk of infection to themselves and those for whom they provide vital care.
All care home providers 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 government will continue to provide free tests and PPE to support the scheme and has already distributed £1.1 billion from the infection control fund, an additional £149 million to support rapid testing and visits and £120 million to increase staffing.