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care home visits Northumberland

Visits out of care homes

The latest guidance on care home visiting applies from 12 April. On visits out of care homes the government says:

Spending time out of the care home has always been an important part of life for many people living in residential care. This might include visits with friends and family to outdoor spaces and leisure venues, or to celebrate special occasions.

For some residents, regular visits may be part of their care plan – accessing care and support in day services, participating in community groups and volunteering. For many residents of working age, this might include regular overnight visits to the family home.

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that much of this visiting out of the care home has had to stop.

As part of the roadmap out of lockdown – guided by the data – we want to enable care home residents to enjoy a range of trips out of the care home, wherever it is safe and proportionate to do so.

We recognise how important this is for residents’ health and wellbeing, their ability to remain at the heart of family and social networks; and in some cases to deliver the objectives of their care plan.

However, spending time with others outside the care home will increase the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for the resident and potentially to other vulnerable residents on their return. This is the case even as we see community infection rates dropping and vaccine coverage increasing.

Whereas it is possible to mitigate and manage infection risks within the controlled environment of the care home – including by testing anyone coming into the home – it is simply not possible to control the environment outside of the care home in the same way.

This means that there is still the need for some measures to manage the risk of residents returning from visits bringing infection into the care home environment.

This guidance sets out the approach that care homes should take to planning and supporting visits out of the home where residents wish to make them. It explains the measures that should be taken – by the home, the resident and others taking part in the visit – to manage the risks.

The most significant of these is the requirement that a resident making a visit out of the care home should isolate for 14 days on their return (the day of return is day zero). This is to ensure that – in the event they have unknowingly become infected while out of the home – they minimise the chances of passing that infection on to other residents and staff.

We recognise that in practice, this is likely to mean that many residents will not wish to make a visit out of the home.

Read the full guidance on visits out of care homes

Visit our Covid-19 Information Page

Care Home Visits: Public Forum

At our online forums recently we have heard how visiting restrictions in care homes have affected people living there and their relatives. We have also heard about people’s experiences of other ways of keeping in touch during Covid-19. From 8 March those who live in care homes will be able to receive one regular designated visitor.  We want to hear from you about your experience of this change, and what would help as restrictions are gradually eased.

We are holding another online forum on 31 March from 2.00 – 3.30pm where Dr Jim Brown, Consultant in Public Health at Northumberland County Council and Alan Curry, Senior Manager – Commissioning Northumberland County Council, will be there to answer your questions on the visiting guidance for care homes from a public health and county council perspective and what we may expect for care home visits in Northumberland as we move on from Covid-19.

If you would like to register for a space please contact helenb@healthwatchnorthumberland.co.uk or call us on 03332 408468.

If you cannot come along but have a question you would like an answer to, send it to us and we will ask it for you.

You can also tell us about how you’ve kept in touch with relatives in care homes here

 

 

More on care home visits guidance as of 8 March

Care Home visits Northumberland

Guidance on Care Home Visits

Can I visit someone in a care home?

All care home residents can nominate a single named visitor for indoor visiting. These visits will be supported by providing visitors with rapid lateral flow device (LFD) tests on every visit and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

Those with highest care needs can also nominate an ‘essential family carer’. With the agreement of the care home, these visitors will have access to the same testing and PPE as care home staff, so they can provide support with washing and dressing or eating well.

For those not nominated as single named visitors, visits can still be arranged outdoors, in visiting ‘pods’, behind windows, or behind substantial screens.

It is recommended that care homes operate a simple booking or appointments system to enable visits.

In the event of outbreaks, care homes should immediately stop visiting (except in exceptional circumstances, such as end of life) to protect vulnerable residents, staff and visitors.

Vaccination is not mandatory and is not a condition of visiting.

 

How do I find out the visiting policy of a care home?

Each home is unique, so providers will design their own visiting arrangements that take into account the needs of their residents and what is possible within the layout and facilities of that home.

In producing these policies, providers should work collaboratively with residents, families and local social care and health professionals to strike a good balance between the risks and benefits of visiting.

Visiting policies should be made available and/or communicated to residents and families.

 

Do I need to take a test to be able to visit my relative?

If you are visiting a care home resident as a named visitor, you will be required to take a rapid LFD test and test negative before every visit. If visitors test positive, they must immediately return home, self-isolate and complete a further test which will be provided to them by the care home. The care home provider should provide full details on their testing process and obtain consent from visitors prior to their participation in testing. If you have arranged with your local care home to be a resident’s ‘essential care giver’, you will be supported to follow the same testing arrangements in place for care home staff. Those visiting loved ones indoors at the end of their lives may be offered a test on arrival for their visit, but those visiting residents outdoors will not require a test. However, if visitors are displaying any symptoms of coronavirus, they should not visit the care home, self-isolate and order a test immediately.All visitors may be asked screening questions upon arrival. These may include:

  • Have you been feeling unwell recently?
  • Have you had recent onset of a new continuous cough?
  • Do you have a high temperature? A care home may consider providing a temperature check for all visitors to provide confidence to visitors and to staff.
  • Have you noticed a loss of, or change in, normal sense of taste or smell?
  • Have you tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 10 days?
  • Have you had recent contact (in the last 14 days) with anyone with COVID-19 symptoms or someone with confirmed COVID-19 – if yes, should you be self-isolating as a family member or as a contact advised to do so by NHS Test and Trace?
  • Have you returned from an overseas visit recently and are you still in the quarantine period?

 

What is likely to change when I visit my loved one?

Indoor visits may take place in designated visiting rooms, but in all cases, they should take place in a well-ventilated room. Those visiting indoors must observe strict social distancing from other residents, visitors and staff at all times, and follow care home policies in place for testing and use of appropriate PPE. There may be some instances where visits are supervised, for example during a visitor’s first visit. This should be clearly explained in the care home’s visiting policy.Any additional visits should take place where possible outside. Other appropriate visits include:

  • Visits under a cover such as an awning, gazebo or open-sided marquee, where residents and visitors remain at least 2 metres apart.
  • Visits in temporary outdoor structures, such as COVID-secure visiting areas/pods which are enclosed to some degree but are still outside the main building of the home. These areas can only allow one visiting party at a time, will require good ventilation and screens between residents and visitors.
  • Visits in a dedicated room such as a conservatory, which can be accessed from outside of the home. These areas can only allow one visiting party at a time, will require good ventilation and screens between residents and visitors.
  • Visits at a window.

 

What should I do to keep the person I am visiting safe?

Named visitors should be tested using rapid LFD tests before every visit, must wear the appropriate PPE, and follow all other infection control measures. The care home will guide visitors on infection control measures.Visitors and residents may wish to hold hands but are advised to keep physical contact to a minimum as any contact increases the risk of transmission.Visitors should also be careful to ensure they observe strict social distancing from other residents, visitors and staff at all times.

 

How often can I visit a care home?

Care homes will decide how often and for how long it is possible for named visitors to come into the home. This is likely to be depend on practical considerations, such as the layout of the home and the numbers of residents and families who may wish to have visits. In practice this may mean that the frequency of visits is limited, however, local Directors of Public Health may provide advice to homes allowing more regular visiting if they are confident that infection control measures and other arrangements are in place.For outdoor visits, the guidance recommends a maximum of two visitors at any one time.This is in order to limit the overall numbers of visitors to the care home and the consequent risk of disease transmission.

 

What happens if there is an outbreak at the care home?

If there is a declared outbreak in a care home, then it is recommended that visiting be restricted, with only ‘end of life’ visits recommended. These restrictions will continue until the care home has been assessed to be in recovery. You should be informed of this.

 

What happens if I can’t see my family or friend in the care home?

If providers are unable to safely allow visits in line with new guidance, alternative ways of communicating between residents and their families and friends should be discussed and offered. The care home should also provide regular updates to residents’ loved ones on their mental and physical health, how they are coping and identify any additional ways they might be better supported, including any cultural or religious needs.

 

Can a care home resident come and visit me out of the care home?

Current guide states that care homes should support visits out of homes in exceptional circumstances, such as to visit to a friend or relative at the end of their life. These visits can only happen in agreement with the home and will be subject to individual and whole home risk assessments.

 

The guidance for visits out of homes will be updated shortly.

 

Tell us your experience of care home visits

Care Home Visits in Northumberland

Our public forum on care home visits in November produced some really interesting and insightful discussion. We talked about how people are keeping in touch with loved ones in care homes during the pandemic, the effect on those in the homes, particularly those with dementia, and the effect on relatives, plus what would help, going forward and throughout the winter to make the situation easier.

Further to the issues raised at the forum, where people told us they were unclear on what care homes can or can’t do in terms of visits, we asked Liz Morgan, Director of Public Health in Northumberland for information. She shared the guidance on visiting that has been sent to every care home in the county, which can be found below.

We are hoping to hold another Zoom forum around these visits in the coming months, and in the meantime please keep sharing your experiences of care home visits.

Tell us your experiences of:

  • Using video calls (FaceTime, Zoom etc.) or telephone calls – does the home support these? How many times a week and how long? Does a member of staff help your loved one with the call?
  • Socially distanced visits – does the home support ‘window’ visits.  How many times a week and how for long?
  • How does the home keep you informed about how your loved one is getting on (apart from necessary issues about their care or health), for example, manager updates, photographs, videos
  • Does the home have a programme of group and one-to-one activities? Has your loved one taken part?
  • Has the home asked you what, within the current restrictions, would make this time easier?
  • What, within the current restrictions, would make it better for you and your love one?
  • When restrictions are eventually eased (not totally lifted) what would help you and your loved one?

Get in touch

Care Home Guidance on visits November 2020

Letter to Care Homes November 2020

Events

Care home visit

Care home visiting Northumberland

At our previous online forums we have heard how visiting restrictions in care homes have affected people living there and their relatives. We have also heard about other ways people have been keeping in touch during Covid-19 and experiences of the changes to allow one or two designated visitors for in-person visits. We have also heard from representatives at Public Health and Northumberland County Council on the visiting guidance for care homes.

At our next forum on Friday 4 June at 10.30am we would like to hear from you about your experiences of visiting your loved ones in care homes now we are almost two months into the changes in visiting policy. We would also like to hear your experiences of the other ways you have been keeping in touch and any feedback you have on preparing for you and your loved ones to have visits outside of the care home.

We will also be sharing the results of our recent online surveys for care home staff and relatives/friends of those living in care homes and looking at the next steps for this feedback moving forward.

If you would like to register for the event please email Helen Brown at: helenb@healthwatchnorthumberland.co.uk or call us on 03332 408468.

Government guidance on care home visits

Visit our Covid-19 Information Page

Care Home visiting Northumberland

Care Home visiting in Northumberland

At our online forums we have heard how visiting restrictions in care homes have affected people living there and their relatives. We have also heard about people’s experiences of other ways of keeping in touch during Covid-19. From 8 March those who live in care homes have been able to receive one regular designated visitor.  We want to hear from you about your experience of this change, and what would help as restrictions are gradually eased.

We are holding another online forum on 31 March at 2.00pm -3.30pm where Dr Jim Brown, Consultant in Public Health at Northumberland County Council and Alan Curry, Senior Manager – Commissioning Northumberland County Council, will be there to answer your questions on the visiting guidance for care homes from a public health and county council perspective and what we may expect for care home visits in Northumberland as we move on from Covid-19.

If you would like to register for a space please contact helenb@healthwatchnorthumberland.co.uk or call us on 03332 408468.

If you cannot come along but have a question you would like an answer to, send it to us and we will ask it for you.

If you are a relative or friend of someone in a care home in Northumberland we would love to hear more on your thoughts about keeping in touch with loved ones and activities within the home, particularly post Covid-19 as restrictions start to ease. With this feedback we hope to find practical recommendations that will improve the experience for people living in care homes and their loved ones in the future. We would really appreciate your feedback by completing the survey below.

Care homes survey

Government guidance on care home visits

Visit our Covid-19 Information Page