Coronavirus – Covid-19
Park Homes (UK) Limited is continuing to follow the advice that GOV.UK and the NHS are updating daily as the global outbreak develops.
Last updated 21 June 2021
Coronavirus – Covid-19
The health, safety and wellbeing of our residents and colleagues are always our top priorities. We have therefore taken comprehensive action to prepare for, and respond to, the growing coronavirus outbreak in the UK.
We are continuously monitoring the advice from government and our regulators to ensure we are safeguarding our residents and colleagues. We will update this page in the event of any developments. If you have any questions, please speak to your local manager.
This guidance applies from 21 June 2021 and replaces previous guidance on care home visiting. This guidance applies to residential care homes and care home residents of all ages. There is separate guidance for supported living and extra care settings.
The measures described in this guidance relate to visits with friends and family that take place within care home premises. Guidance relating to visits where the resident leaves the care home premises are described in our guidance on visits out of care homes.
Visiting is a central part of care home life. It is crucially important for maintaining the health, wellbeing and quality of life of residents. Visiting is also vital for family and friends to maintain contact and life-long relationships with their loved ones and contribute to their support and care.
This guidance sets out the government’s advice to support safe visiting:
- every care home resident can nominate up to 5 ‘named visitors’ who will be able to enter the care home for regular visits (and will be able to visit together or separately as preferred)
- the 5 named visitors may include an essential care giver (where residents have one). Babies and preschool-aged children do not count towards the total of 5 (provided no individual visits breach national restrictions on indoor gatherings)
- to reduce the risk of infection, residents can have no more than 2 visitors at a time or over the course of one day (essential care givers are exempt from – and so not included in – this daily limit)
- 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
- national restrictions on indoor gatherings should be followed. Find out more about what you can and cannot do
- care homes can also continue to offer visits to other friends or family members through arrangements such as outdoor visiting, rooms with substantial screens, visiting pods, or from behind windows
Care home visiting should be supported and enabled wherever it is possible to do so safely – supported by this guidance and within an environment that is set up to manage risks. All visitors also have an important role to play – helping to keep their loved ones, other residents and staff safe by carefully following the policies described in this guidance, and the practical arrangements that care homes put in place, such as internal risk assessment and infection prevention and control protocols. Local system leaders such as the directors of public health (DPH) and directors of adult social services (DASS) also have a key role in this partnership to support visiting.
Welcoming anyone into care homes from the community inevitably brings risk of COVID-19 transmission. However, these risks can be managed and mitigated, and they should be balanced against the importance of visiting and the benefits it brings to care home residents and their families.
In the face of new variants of the virus, we need to remain alert to ensure we protect those most at risk in care homes while ensuring indoor visits can go ahead.
Vaccination is one of our best defences to combat infection. It significantly reduces the transmission of the virus, particularly following 2 doses. It is strongly recommended that all visitors and residents take the opportunity to be vaccinated before conducting visits.
Each care home is unique in its physical environment and facilities, and the needs and wishes of their residents. As such, care home managers are best placed to develop their own policies (in consultation with residents and their relatives) to ensure that the visits described in this guidance are provided in the best way for individual residents, their loved ones, and care home staff.
Care home managers should feel empowered to exercise their judgement when developing practical arrangements or advice to put this guidance into practice so that visiting can take place smoothly and comfortably for everyone in the care home.
If the provider or manager has any queries regarding visiting, a range of additional support is available. Providers may wish to seek advice from their local Director of Public Health or Director of Adult Social Services, both of whom have an important role to play in supporting visiting, and in supporting the care home to deliver the visits described in this guidance. Additionally, care homes may wish to make use of the resources provided by Care England and Partners in Care, a coalition of providers, relatives and residents organisations facilitated by the National Care Forum.
The individual resident, their views, their mental capacity, their needs and wellbeing should be taken into account when decisions about visiting are made, recognising that the care home will need to consider the wellbeing of other residents as well.
These decisions should involve the resident, their family and friends and the provider and other relevant professionals such as social workers or clinicians where appropriate. Throughout this guidance we use the phrase ‘family and friends’. This is intended to be a wide-ranging and inclusive term to describe the network of people around the resident who may wish to visit, or whom the resident may wish to meet.
All decisions should be taken in light of general legal obligations, such as those under the Equality Act 2010 and Human Rights Act 1998, as applicable. Providers must also have regard to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) ethical framework for adult social care. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has regulatory powers that can be used where the commission has concerns regarding visiting.
We recognise how important visiting is to residents who are approaching the end of their lives (see section 2.4 below) and this should not just mean at the very end of one’s life. Families and residents should be supported to plan end-of-life visits, with the assumption that visiting will be enabled to happen not just towards the very end of life, and that discussion with the family should happen in good time. As has been the case throughout the pandemic response, visits in exceptional circumstances such as end of life should continue in all circumstances (including in the event of an outbreak).
Visiting is just as important for people living in supported living and extra care settings. This guidance does not directly apply to those settings – the diversity of the settings and the needs of those who live in them means this guidance 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 the services they manage.
To support visiting, additional rapid lateral flow testing has also been provided for visitors in supported living and extra care settings where staff are currently eligible for testing. Read guidance on visiting in supported living.