Health and Wellbeing

Visiting care homes this Christmas

hands of an elderly person holding a cup of tea Photo by Claudia van Zyl on Unsplash

Posted on: 8 December 2020

Many of us with loved ones in care homes will be thinking how best to maintain contact over Christmas. 

Every home and every circumstance may vary, depending upon the risk of exposure to coronavirus on vulnerable residents and care home staff. 

The short answer is, check with the care home before visiting to understand whether visits are permitted right now, and what mitigations are required for a safe visit. 

Visiting is a crucial part of maintaining quality of life for residents, but it inevitably brings infection risk. 

The government is distributing rapid tests to care homes across the country to be used for visitors, and they plan for homes to receive quantities to test up to two visitors per resident, twice a week by Christmas. 

You will need to arrange the visit with the home in advance, and the home will need to decide how to facilitate the visit safely. 

Rapid tests like this do not completely remove the risk of infection.  Therefore, it is important to adhere to other infection prevention measures, including:  

  • continue to wear the appropriate personal protective equipment 
  • observe social distancing in general when in the care home 
  • maintain good hand hygiene 

The care home may have additional guidance that they will want you to follow regarding physical contact with the person you are visiting.  Please ask for that guidance before assuming physical contact is OK. 

Care homes, regardless of Tier, should – unless there is an outbreak meaning all visits are stopped – seek to enable indoor visits where the visitor has been tested and returned a negative result; and outdoor visits and ‘screened’ visits. 

The home may want to ask you some questions before, or on arrival, such as: 

  • have you been feeling unwell recently? 
  • have you had recent onset of a new continuous cough? 
  • do you have a high temperature? A care home may consider providing a temperature check for all visitors to provide confidence to visitors and to staff 
  • have you noticed a loss of, or change in, normal sense of taste or smell? 
  • have you had recent contact (in the last 14 days) with anyone with COVID-19 symptoms or someone with confirmed COVID-19. If yes, should you be self-isolating as a family member or as a contact advised to do so by NHS Test and Trace? 
  • have you returned from an overseas visit recently and are you still in the quarantine period? 

The government guidance for care homes has been updated again since the 2 December.  

Please don’t let the preventative measures dissuade your visit.  It’s vitally important to maintain contact with loved ones, and care homes are doing all they can to enable visits to happen safely.

Posted in: DCC Homepage | Health and Wellbeing