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Campaigners slam government approach to care home visits

05 November 2020

On 5 November, the first day of lockdown in England, the government published its long awaited guidance on visits to care home residents. The guidance urges care homes to work with residents and relatives to make visits possible. However, it also stresses the need to keep staff and residents safe from Coronavirus.

Whilst acknowledging that all care homes are different, the guidance suggests some ways of ensuring that visits are safe. These include: meeting outdoors, possibly in a semi-closed structure; speaking through a window; and installing full height screens.

Charities and campaigners have heavily criticised the guidance, saying that it shows a complete lack of understanding of the significant physical and mental conditions of residents. Many residents cannot leave their beds and would struggle to communicate in the ways suggested.

Mencap has called the guidance ‘prison-style measures’, with a spokesperson saying: “in some cases, people with a learning disability think they’ve been abandoned by their loved ones. This cannot go on.”

Campaigners are calling on the government to test family members, in the same way they test care home staff. They point to mass testing in Liverpool and ask why it is possible to do this, yet not make tests available to the families of care home residents.

Fazilet Hadi, Head of Policy at DR UK said: “After eight months of Coronavirus, where families have been torn apart by being separated from their loved ones living in care homes, the government guidance has failed to provide any meaningful solutions.”

Read the government’s updated guidance here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/visiting-care-homes-during-coronavirus