The government is to run a pilot scheme where relatives of care home residents will be treated as ‘key workers’ with access to PPE and testing, the care minister has revealed.
Speaking in front of MPs yesterday (13 October), Helen Whately confirmed a trial programme would be launched ‘shortly’.
‘What I can say is that we are moving forward on it and we are going to pilot it,’ added Ms Whately.
‘Visiting is incredibly important for residents and their families in care homes. I want us to enable visiting, but it must be safe,’ she told members of the health and social care select committee.
‘You have to recognise that should a visitor take Covid in, they are not just endangering the individual they are visiting, but actually that it’s hard to control Covid in a residential setting.’
The news was welcomed by the National Care Forum’s (NCF) executive director, Helen Rayner, who said it had been calling for such a move since June.
‘It has been highlighted in sector wide Visitor Protocols and members have been exploring how this can work in practice for some time,’ said Mr Rayner.
‘The government must act quickly to move us to a place where this pilot comes into play, and we move to a situation across the country where the default assumption is that meaningful and regular visiting is a clear part of every resident’s care. For many, the decisions that are taken about visiting are life changing, and potentially life limiting. None of this is easy – but nothing that mattered ever was.’
The announcement comes as the Scottish Government published new guidance on visiting care homes north of the border.
The minister also insisted that ‘even in the grip of the pandemic’ the government is still working on social care reform.
‘I know some of the witnesses earlier talked about the need for a vision for social care and I want to make sure we set that out,’ said Ms Whately.
‘I want to make working in social care a really rewarding career that people to do and see as an opportunity.’
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