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.