UK Government faces criticism over its new advice on care home visits

Labour and multiple charities are criticising the Government in regards to their new guidance, which was released Thursday, on safe visits to care homes in England, stating that their recommendations are unrealistic.

Alzheimer’s Society responds to the guidance, which recommends providing personal protective equipment (PPE) and social distancing measures, such as designated visitor pods, floor-to-ceiling screens and window visits, stating that the Government “completely misses the point.”

Kate Lee, chief executive at Alzheimer’s Society, added that the suggestions “completely ignore the vital role of family carers in providing the care for their loved ones with dementia that no one else can.”

The “prison-style screens [are] frankly ridiculous when you consider someone with advanced dementia can often be bed-bound and struggling to speak.”

Some of the suggestions in the guidance are as follows:

  • Meet in COVID-secure pods/areas, which are sectioned with floor-to-ceiling screens, and enable care home residents and visitors to enter through different entrances.
  • Outdoor visits with one other person, only in areas that do not require visitors to enter through a care home.
  • Virtual visits through video call platforms.
  • Window visits.

Care homes, particularly those that have banned face-to-face visitation since the first national lockdown in March, “will be encouraged and supported to provide safe visiting opportunities,” says the Government.

Visitation should be “tailored to residents and facilities and should prioritise residents and staff’s safety,” to try to restrict the spreading of coronavirus, and gives people more opportunities to see loved ones “in a safe way,” says Helen Whately, Care Minister.

She also stated that a testing trial would start at the end of this week, to enable testing to visitors when they attend care homes.

Professionals who routinely visit care homes will be subject to weekly tests “in the coming weeks” the Government has said, following a trial in Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire and Peterborough.

Co-founder of dementia charity John’s Campaign, Julia Jones, states “When people are in the later stages of dementia, when people love each other, when people are approaching the end of their lives, they need to hold hands”. Therefore, care home visits should be more “meaningful” than seeing one another through a window or virtually.

Care at Home provides support to adults of all ages with a variety of care needs, contact us today to find out more.

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