Some care home residents to be allowed to receive essential care from loved ones

Jemma Crew, PA Social Affairs Correspondent
·3-min read

Some care home residents will be able to receive personal care and help washing, eating and dressing from their loved ones during visits, the Government has said.

Residents who need extra support, such as those with advanced dementia, learning difficulties or autism, may need a trusted person to help them with daily tasks, according to the Government’s road map.

The health of such residents may be in danger of “deteriorating very rapidly” without such care, it said.

The road map continues: “In this type of situation, the Government will provide extra support to those visitors, whose visit is essential to the resident’s immediate health and wellbeing and who are providing personal care, like help with washing and dressing or eating well.

“With the agreement of the care home, these visitors will have access to the same testing and personal protective equipment (PPE) as care home staff so that they can play this important caring role.”

Announcing the plans in the House of Commons, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said every resident will be able to receive regular visits from one nominated person, who will be tested and wear PPE, from March 8.

These visitors will be allowed to hold hands with their friend or relative, but will be asked not to hug or kiss them, to reduce the chance of spreading Covid-19.

The road map says the Government wants to “go further and allow more visitors” when the data shows it is safe.

During step 2, which is due to start at the earliest on April 12, the Government will look at the effectiveness of the vaccine for residents and infection levels in the local community.

It will then make a decision on extending the number of visitors to two per resident, and set out a plan for the next phase of visits.

The road map says care homes should allow visits using pods, screens and outdoors, so residents also have the chance to see more than just their nominated visitor.

Guidance detailing the changes will be published in the week starting March 1.

James White, head of public affairs and campaigns at Alzheimer’s Society, said the charity is delighted that family carers will be able to visit their loved ones.

He continued:  “We ask the Government to provide clarity on how this will work in practice, and whether it will allow for flexibility in exceptional circumstances, such as an older loved one needing support to visit.

“We also urge for restrictions to be eased further as soon as possible, to allow sons, daughters and grandchildren to see their loved ones too.

“Worst hit by the pandemic, people with dementia have been rapidly declining in isolation: being able to finally hold hands will bring comfort to them and so many families across the country.”

Helen Wildbore, director of the Relatives & Residents Association, welcomed the commitment, but said it comes too late for “too many” older people.

She said: “We have been warning since last June about the devastating impact that lack of this support is having on older people.

“The Government’s recognition that they must now end this ‘rapid deterioration’ in health has sadly come too late for too many older people and will be a shattering blow to the bereaved families who had been pleading to be given this access.

“The Government must now show leadership and act with urgency to ensure this promise becomes a reality for older people by making these proposals mandatory.”