Care home residents in England will be allowed one regular visitor from March 8, health bosses have announced.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the the new rules will allow hand-holding, but no hugging or kissing.
Every resident will have the opportunity to name one individual, who will be required to have a test beforehand, wear PPE during the visit and avoid close contact.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘I know how important visiting a loved one is and I’m pleased we will soon be in a position for people to be carefully and safely reunited with loved ones who live in care homes.
‘This is just the first step to getting back to where we want to be. We need to make sure we keep the infection rate down, to allow greater visiting in a step-by-step way in the future.’
This comes as the prime minister plans to unveil his roadmap for easing the national lockdown this afternoon (February 22).
Vic Rayner, Executive Director of the National Care Forum (NCF) welcomed the news:
‘The National Care Forum welcomes the government commitment to put care home visiting front and centre of the road map for recovery.
‘The NCF, working in partnership with all those passionate about care, has been raising the urgent need to reconnect people with their loved ones for many, many months now.
‘And while the overall approach to visiting has incrementally moved forward, it is hugely important that this next step recognises the role of essential caregivers and ensures that people living within care homes have regular, sustained and meaningful contact with one of the most important people in their lives.
‘NCF will continue to support our membership in moving as quickly as possible to implement these changes, and we call on the government to work with the sector to ensure that homes have all the support and resource needed to make this a reality for the hundreds and thousands of people living within care.
‘Homes are communities, and relatives have always been an essential part of that community, having them back at the heart of care most definitely feels like an important junction on the roadmap.’
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