UK care homes to stop preventing visits despite COVID-19 infections

It’s time for care providers to update their rules as the Private Members Bill is paving the way for laws to end on limiting visits to care homes two and a half years since the pandemic began.  

Presented to the House of Lords last week, by Lord Hunt of Kings Health, the Private Members Bill is designed to stop a small minority of care homes from preventing or limiting visits due to COVID-19.  

woman sitting on wheelchair

During Covid outbreaks, official government guidance now states care homes can make ‘proportionate changes’ to visiting but one visitor at a time per resident should always be accepted. Originally, care homes were put on a strict lockdown at the beginning of the pandemic with nobody being allowed to visit properly until the easing of restrictions in 2021.  

However, now people have been granted access into homes, some providers are still limiting visits and threatening residents with eviction if they complain.

Talks of the Private Members Bill have been circulating since last month when Helen Whatley, UK Care Minister, expressed an interest in the bill and has previously asked officials to urgently examine how the issue might be resolved.  

Last month research undertaken by The Guardian discovered that by mid-November, 102 care homes in England reported to the government that they were not allowing any visits and 98 were only allowing visits in exceptional circumstances.

Two leading charities for older people, The Relatives and Residents Association (R&RA) and Rights for Residents, have also raised concerns about providers limiting visits. The organisations say some homes have banned grandchildren from seeing their grandparents and even put age limits on visitors. They also object to other restrictions which have been enforced such as only allowing visits for short periods and not allowing people to see their loved ones in their rooms.

Helen Wildbore, Director of the R&RA said: ‘It is six weeks since the Care Minister promised she was ‘on the case’ and working on options to ensure people needing care are not isolated from the vital support of their family carers.

‘Lord Hunt’s bill will be a ray of hope to families desperate to see change. There is clear cross-party, cross-Parliament support for a new legal right to a Care Supporter.

‘There is political will from the Care Minister to bring about change but now we need action. Before it is too late for too many more people. With many older people facing their last Christmas, this is desperately urgent.’

Photo by Steven HWG


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