Care setting visiting
From 19 July the government’s advice to support safe visiting in care homes means that:
- every care home resident can have ‘named visitors’ who will be able to enter the care home for regular visits. There is no limit on the number of ‘named visitors’ that a single resident can have and no nationally set limit on the number who can visit in a single day. These visitors should be tested using rapid lateral flow tests on the day of every visit and produce a negative COVID test prior to their visit.
- every care home resident can choose to nominate an essential care giver who may visit the home to attend to essential care needs. The essential care giver should be enabled to visit in all circumstances, including if the care home is in outbreak (but not if the essential care giver or resident are COVID-positive)
- named visitors and residents are advised to keep physical contact to a minimum (excluding essential care givers). Physical contact like handholding is acceptable if hand washing protocols are followed. Close personal contact such as hugging presents higher risks but will be safer if it is between people who are double vaccinated, without face-to-face contact, and there is brief contact only
- care homes can also continue to offer visits to friends or family members through arrangements such as outdoor visiting, rooms with substantial screens, visiting pods, or from behind windows
For further details see the gov.uk summary of the guidance for visitors (external link).
Visits out of care homes
Opportunities for care home residents to make visits out of the home are an important part of care home life.
Even as vaccine coverage increases, there are still risks involved in visits out. It’s important that care homes, residents, family and friends take steps to manage and mitigate these risks.
There are certain types of activity where the risks are inherently higher and the advice is that in these cases the resident should self-isolate on their return (to the care home). This is to ensure that, in the event they have unknowingly become infected while out of the home, they minimise the chances of passing that infection on to other residents and staff. These activities are:
- overnight stays in hospital
- visits assessed to be high-risk following an individual risk assessment
This remains under review, and it is our ambition that guidance on self-isolation following overnight stays in hospital will be amended as soon as the data and evidence show it is safe.
All other visits out of the care home that are not assessed as high risk should be supported, and not subject to advice to self-isolate on return to the care home, subject to an individual risk assessment.
For further details see the gov.uk visits out of care home guidance (external link).
- Named visitors must use whatever PPE the care home asks visitors to wear and have had a negative lateral flow test result before each visit they make
- Visitors should follow local care home guidance on infection and prevention control measures when visiting a care home.
- It is not a condition of visiting that the visitor or the resident should have been vaccinated, however, it is strongly recommended that residents and visitors receive 2 doses of vaccine before conducting visits
- We are allowing these visits in all of our 16 county council run care settings
- We are supporting independent care providers to do the same
See the sections below for more information about care home visiting.
For more information or to find out about a care home's current visiting policy, please contact the care provider.
Here are the contact details for the 16 Lancashire County Council run residential homes.
If visiting or going out is not allowed at any time, ask about alternatives.
All care homes must follow the latest Government Guidelines for care home visiting. Visit gov.uk for more information on these guidelines.
You will not be able to visit anyone in a care home if you:
- have tested positive for Covid-19, whether or not you are displaying symptoms and are completing your 10 day isolation period
- live in the same household as someone who has tested positive and you are completing your 10 day isolation period
- have any coronavirus symptoms such as a high temperature, a new dry and persistent cough, a loss of taste or smell or you are generally feeling unwell
- have been identified through the Test and Trace programme as a 'contact' of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 and are within the 10 day isolation period
Before you visit
If you are able to visit a care home you should:
- Book your visit in advance
- Call the care home to complete the screening checklist by phone on the day you want to visit
- Only have contact with the family member or friend you are visiting
- Ensure you and any children with you follow social distancing guidelines at all times at the home
- Use hand sanitiser before and after your visit
- If possible, meet in an outdoor area which can be accessed without entering a shared building
- You should not bring too many items, such as gifts, into the care home and check they are clean first.
Visiting is just as important for people living in supported living and extra care settings. Whilst this guidance does not directly apply to those settings because the diversity of these settings and the needs of those who live in them means it will not be suitable in all cases. However, supported living and extra care managers may wish to use the guidance to help them support safe visiting in these settings.
The Alzheimer's Society have set out some key considerations for visiting a care home.
The Healthwatch website answers some common questions about what the guidance around visiting in care homes means in practice.
We recognise that residents and relatives in particular may have further questions and concerns about visiting arrangements and each person's circumstances are unique.
We would strongly encourage people to talk directly to the care provider to understand, clarify or resolve any specific questions you may have, each care provider will have a visitor policy, available on request.
If you have any concerns about an individual or an organisation please contact us.
If you continue to experience concerns, having discussed these with the care provider, then you may wish to contact us to make a comment, compliment or complaint about adult social care.
Care providers should follow the national and local guidance to ensure policies for visiting arrangements and decisions minimise risk wherever possible.
The national guidance from the government includes information about what should be included in a care home's visiting policy.
There is also guidance from the government for supported living settings.
Guidance for visits out of a care home, for example to a family home, is being considered and an update will be provided shortly.
The Local Resilience Forum has issued guidance for care homes and supported living homes about visits to residents from family and friends. This guidance aims to facilitate safe visiting where appropriate and essential to improve the resident’s morale, mental and emotional wellbeing.
We regularly support care homes, for example providing updates via the provider forum and newsletter; sharing a visitor checklist template and providing advice to care homes from our Infection Prevention Control Team. We are also working on making some recommendations about managing restrictions under Covid-19, drawing on best practice and direct experience.
Examples of good practice we support:
- Asking your family member or friend what visiting time and type of visit (given the current social distancing advice) would be best for them
- Checking that your contact details as a family member or friend are up to date
- Adapting the care home - for example, using conservatories, an empty bedroom in the building or a gazebo outdoors, for visits (given the current advice)
- Facilitating telephone and face time contact, every day if needed. This may include using Microsoft teams, Zoom and Skype meetings, so you can see multiple family members in different locations at the same time.
- Enabling residents to walk around the grounds and link in to their community (given the current social distancing advice) For example, church services held either in the garden with residents inside or streamed onto a screen in the lounge
- Facilitating essential visits, for example due to end of life, due to social isolation, an escalation of the resident's behaviours if the visit did not go ahead, and due to the safety of residents (given the current advice)
- Providing an easy read version of the visitor policy
- For people who lack capacity, following guidance to help with decision making and following the principles of the Mental Capacity Act
Loneliness is a growing problem among people in care homes and it can be a particularly difficult issue to resolve. Brighten someone’s day by sending a card to a local care home with Cards for Kindness.