Visiting relatives in care homes

Hands, Face, Space

Due to the very rapid increase in people testing positive for COVID-19, Sutton is now in national lockdown COVID-19 restrictions

This means that the rules for visiting relatives in Sutton care homes have been changed to try to reduce the risk of visitors unknowingly coming into care homes while infected since many people do not have symptoms.

What are the rules for visiting care homes during lockdown?

The government has issued updated guidance on visiting care homes.

  • Visits to care homes 

    • Outdoor visiting and ‘screened’ visits can take place except in the event of an active outbreak.

    • Screened visits are described in section 2.3 with examples to support social distancing and good ventilation using substantial screens, visiting pods, or visits behind windows. 

    • Close-contact indoor visits supported by lateral flow device testing are not allowed (These are only allowed in Tiers 1-3)

    • In exceptional circumstances, including end of life, visits should always be supported by good planning and communication with relatives.

    • All visits must be supported by robust Infection Prevention & Control measures, including appropriate PPE use, social distancing, good hand hygiene, 

    • Visiting space must be used by only one resident and visiting party at a time with appropriate cleaning and time allocated between visits  

    • Number of visitors should be limited to a single constant visitor wherever possible, with an absolute maximum of 2 constant visitors per resident. 

    • Testing is not a requirement for outdoor visits since outdoor visits can be made available to visitors who have not been tested, while rapid testing can reduce the risks around visiting it does not completely remove the risk of infection.

Please remember: Providers should facilitate visiting as described in the guidance where possible, using appropriate risk assessment that takes into account the individual needs of their residents, and the physical and other features unique to the care home. Each care home (the registered manager) is responsible for setting the visiting policy in that home. Seek help early from professionals within the Sutton system if you need advice and do continue to communicate your policies and plans with families.

 

  • Visits out of homes 

Sutton Council and our care providers understand that outward visits are an important part of life for many in residential care. However, spending time with others outside the care home will increase risk of exposure to COVID-19 for the resident and potentially to other vulnerable residents on their return.

The government has issued updated guidance on arranging visits out of care homes. Individuals (including care home residents) must stay at home and must not gather indoors unless one of the specified exemptions apply. This applies at all times. This means that a resident cannot meet people indoors on a visit out (for example, to visit their family in the family home).

If a visit does take place, it is vitally important that the latest government guidance is followed with regards to testing, cleanliness and social distancing. This means that all members of the household hosting the visit should have had a negative result from a COVID-19 test taken immediately preceding the visit. For instance, the test could be taken when the family go to the care home to collect the resident for the visit. Care homes should make use of the lateral flow devices they have been supplied with for this purpose.

The latest guidance from the government specifies what to do in the event of a positive test result when planning a visit, as well as advice with regards to limiting the risk of transmission within homes as a result of such visits. 

In the event of an outbreak in the care home, visits out will not be possible. This is necessary in light of the increased risk of the resident inadvertently infecting those they are visiting.

(Last updated: 05 January 2021)