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‘Two-test’ approach could allow safe care home visits

New guidance could allow visits to care homes in Bolton.

Indoor care home visits were placed on hold in Greater Manchester while local health leaders sought reassurances over the use of the rapid Lateral Flow Device (LFD) testing.

Bolton Council has now written to all care homes to confirm a new ‘two-test’ process that will allow indoor visits to take place, significantly reducing the risk of vulnerable residents catching the virus.

As part of the process, visitors must have a standard PCR test, booked via the national portal, within three days of their visit. If the PCR test is negative, they should then have an LFD test at the care home on the day of their pre-booked visit.

If the PCR test is positive, they must not attend the home and must isolate for 10 days in accordance with government guidance,

If the individual has a negative PCR test but the LFD test on the day is positive, the visit cannot take place and they must have a further PCR test. Residents should be limited to two regular visitors.

The recommendations come from Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership and have been agreed by directors of Public Health from across the city region.

Council bosses say the logistical challenges will mean loved ones may not be able to see residents indoors as often as they would like.

But care homes are being urged to continue alternative forms of visiting such as closed window visits and the use of visiting pods to allow residents to keep in regular touch.

Families are reminded that the relaxing of COVID-19 restrictions around the Christmas period does not apply to the rules around care home visits.

Bolton Council’s executive cabinet member for adult social care, cllr Andy Morgan, said: ‘When it comes to protecting the most vulnerable in our community, we cannot be too cautious.

‘We know the mental wellbeing of our residents is just as important as their physical health and we believe this two-test approach strikes the right balance.

‘Not everyone will be able to see their loved ones indoors as quickly or as often as they might like, and I urge everyone to be patient and to take advantage of the other types of safe visiting.

‘Government and Public Health guidance remains that physical contact should be as little as possible whilst maintaining the social distancing rules whenever possible.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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